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Presented to the 

Faculty of Music Library 


Arthur Plettner 

Isa Mcllwraith 




MUSIC OF GERMANY, 1685-1750 
















CbTHEN, 1717-1723. 

HANDEL AS ORGAN-PLAYERS ............... 










LEIPZIG, 1723-1734. 

LEIPZIG ......... -.. ............ 181 


OF Music IN LEIPZIG .................. 189 




OF PITCH AND TUNE .................. 263 


VI. BACH'S CANTATAS (CONTINUED) ............... 437 


THE ST. MATTHEW PASSION ............... 477 


SION .................... ... 570 

IX. BACH'S MOTETTS ..................... 594 

X. "OCCASIONAL" COMPOSITIONS ............... 612 

APPENDIX (A, TO VOL. II.) .................. 649 



COTHEN, 17171723. 


COTHEN, 17171723. 



PRINCE LEOPOLD of Anhalt-Cothen was born Novem- 
ber 2, 1694 ; and, at the time when he invited Bach to 
his court, was at the end of his twenty-third or the beginning 
of his twenty-fourth year. He had entered into possession 
of his little dominions on the last day of the year 1715 ; and 
a few weeks later a marriage was solemnised between his 
sister and Prince Ernst August of Sax- Weimar, in the 
royal castle of Nienburg, on the Saale. This was the 
dower-house of his mother, Gisela Agnes, an active, ener- 
getic, and prudent woman, who had governed during 
Leopold's minority, and had given a careful education to 
the boy whom death had deprived of his father when he 
was ten years old. Leopold had been for some time at the 
" Ritter Akademie" at Berlin, to which at that time many 
young princes were attracted by its celebrity. Then, in 
October, 1710, he had set out on the usual grand tour first 
to Holland and England, and then through Germany to 
Italy; and in the spring of 1713 he had returned, by Vienna, 
to Cothen. His conspicuous musical tastes and talents had 
been promoted and cultivated, particularly during his stay in 
Italy. In Venice he was assiduous in visiting the opera- 
house. In Rome he attracted to himself the German com- 
poser Johann David Heinichen, and under his guidance he 
became familiar with the promised land of music. 1 The 

1 Gerber, N. L., II., col. 615, according to Killer, Wochentliche Nachrichten, 
I., p. 213. But Heinichen must have been in Rome first and afterwards in 
Venice. From a very slight sketch of his travels we gather that Prince Leopold 
was in Rome from March 2 till June 6, 1712, and then turned towards Vienna 
by Florence. Heinichen must have accompanied him part of the way, and 
have remained behind in Venice, where he composed two operas in 1713. The 
manuscript of the diary of his journey is in the Castle Library at Cothen. 


famous organ in Santa Maria Maggiore, at Trient where 
Handel had carried away his audience by his masterly play- 
ing a few years previously 2 may have been played upon 
before the music-loving Prince on Sundays, during the ser- 
vice. He also showed an intelligent taste for pictures, 
admired Michael Angelo's " Moses," and had a number of 
masterpieces copied for him in the galleries of Rome. He 
had, indeed, a frank and independent nature, alive to every 
impression ; his information was general and sound ; and, 
at a later period, he laid the foundation of the library of the 
castle at Cothen. 3 

His open countenance with a high brow and large clear 
eyes, and its setting, contrary to the fashion of the time, of 
long, naturally waving hair has a most winning expression of 
youthful freshness, and an unmistakable trace of his artistic 
bent. Of this Prince's deeds as a ruler there is little to be 
told ; but that little corresponds to the promise of the face. 
The court was of the Reformed Church, as also was a large 
part of the population. His predecessor, Emanuel Leberecht, 
had granted to the Lutherans the free and public exercise of 
their religious observances, probably under the influence of 
his wife, who was of that confession. A Lutheran church 
had been built in 1699 ; and, in 1711, Gisela Agnes 
founded a Lutheran home and school for women and girls. 
One of Leopold's first enactments was not merely to con- 
firm, but to increase, the liberty granted by his father, 
" because it was the greatest blessing when the subjects in 
a country were protected in their freedom of conscience." 
The results were visible in the happy and flourishing con- 
dition of the little capital and of the whole province. 

The court was held on a small and modest scale ; it had 
never possessed a theatre, and the Reformed services did not 
encourage music. Bach had nothing to do with the organ 
service in either of the three churches in the town. 
Christian Ernst Rolle was Organist in the Lutheran church, 

1 Chrysander, Handel, I., p. 229. 

8 Job. Christoph Krausen, Fortsetzung der Bertramischen Geschichte des 
Hauses in Ftirstenthums Anhalt, Part II., p. 672 (Halle, 1782). Stenzel, 
Handbuch der Anhaltischen Geschichte, p. 279 (Dessau, 1820). 


and Joh. Jakob M tiller held that post in the principal Reformed 
church until I73i. 4 He probably also undertook to serve 
the castle organ. It was the same here, no doubt, as at 
Arnstadt. Its small dimensions and compass would scarcely 
fit it for any use but that of playing chorales; and this 
amply sufficed for the requirements of the reformed service. 
The two manuals had together ten stops ; the pedal had 
three. 5 Though, even in cases where Bach gives at full 
length the titles he bore at that time, he never calls himself 
" Hoforganist," it need not be inferred that he never played 
on this little instrument. 

The strength of music there, however, lay in chamber 
music, and in this it is evident that the Prince himself 
took part. If we may judge from an inventory of the 
instruments in his private possession, he played not only 
the violin, but the viol-di-gamba and the clavier 6 ; and he 
was also a very good bass singer. Bach himself said of 
him later, that he had not merely loved music, but had 
understood it. Under whom he studied is not known. 
Bach's predecessor as capellmeister was Augustin Reinhard 
Strieker, the same who in 1708, as chamber musician at 
Berlin, had composed the festival music for the marriage 
of the King with the Princess Sophie Louise of Mecklenburg. 7 
At about this time Leopold must have been at the " Ritter 
Akademie " there, and the hypothesis is probably not 
unfounded that the connection he then formed with 
Strieker may have led to the composer's obtaining the 

4 Walther, sub voce "Rolle"; and the Cathedral Registers at Cothen. 

5 I conclude from this that the present very dilapidated organ is the one 
which existed in Bach's time. From an inscription on the bellows, which have 
been renewed not long since, it would seem that they were constructed in 1733. 
It does not therefore follow that the organ itself is no older, for the bellows are 
often the part that first needs mending. It may very likely have been built at 
the time when the wing of the castle was finished in which the chapel stands. 
But, even if it were not so, no organ there could have been any larger than the 
present one, for there is not space for it. It would seem easier to believe that 
the chapel had no organ until 1733. 

6 This inventory, which his brother and successor, August Ludwig, entered 
under April 20, 1733, is in the ducal archives of Cothen. See also Gerber, 
op. cit. 

1 Walther, Lexicon. 

B 2 


post of capellmeister at Cb'then. Afterwards in Italy, and 
later still by a renewal of his intercourse with his capell- 
meister, he sought to cultivate still farther his taste in 
music, and Strieker was in his service as early as 1714. 
However, to judge from all that we can learn concerning 
his labours as a composer, Strieker was more devoted 
to vocal than to instrumental music, and this no doubt 
is the reason of his having soon left Cothen, for that 
place had but small vocal resources. Mattheson has pre- 
served the memory of two young singers two Demoiselles 
de Monjou from Cothen, who sang at Berlin in July, 1722, 
before the Queen of Prussia, and then retired to their 
native town. "The younger," we are told, "had a fine clear 
voice and great perfection in music." It is said they both 
went to Hamburg, and were there engaged in the opera. 8 
There must also have been among the cantors and teachers 
in the town some good bass to be found, and probably also 
a tenor, but of any regular vocal band or trained chorus 
like that at Weimar we find not the smallest trace. If there 
had been, Bach would not have failed to avail himself of it 
in composing his birthday serenade for the Prince. 

Among the members of the Prince's band we find the names 
of Johann Ludwig Rese, Martin Friedrich Marcus, Johann 
Friedrich Torlee, Bernhard Linike, the "Premier Kammer 
musicus," Josephus Spiess, and the " Viol-di-gambist," 
Christ. Ferdinand Abel. This cannot have constituted the 
whole of the band ; still those here named were no doubt 
the most important members; at the same time the only 
one, even of these, who became more widely known, was 
Abel. He, like Sebastian Bach's brother Joh. Jakob, had in 
his youth followed Charles XII. into the field; he was 
already employed in Cothen when Bach was invited thither, 
and was still living there in 1737. Of his two gifted sons, 
Leopold August and Karl Friedrich, both born at Cothen, 
the second, as is well known, attained European celebrity. 9 

Mattheson, Crit. Mus., Vol. I., Part III., p. 85. 

9 From a document in the archives of Cothen, preserved at Zerbst, entitled 
"Protocoll iiber die Fiirstl. Capell-und Trompeter-Gagen von 1717-18." Also 
Gerber, Lexicon, I., cols. 3 and 4. 


A pupil of Bach's at this time was Johann Schneider, 
born near Coburg ; he played the organ, clavier, and 
violin, and entered the band at Weimar as violinist in 
1726 ; in 1730 he went to Leipzig as Organist to the 
Church of St. Nikolaus. 10 He must no doubt have been 
employed in the band. Bach himself, as " Capellmeister 
and director of the Prince's chamber music," as he de- 
scribes himself with his own hand, received a salary of 
400 thalers a year : a good round sum at that period. And 
the terms of his appointment prove the high estimation in 
which the Prince held him, for it was dated, and the salary 
paid, from August i, 1717, though Bach cannot have entered 
his service before the end of November. This, with a few 
other meagre notices, is all that is known to us concerning 
his official position in Cothen. Time has effaced or over- 
grown almost every trace of his labours, as the grass has 
overgrown the castle-yard which the master must so often 
have crossed ; and his name has died out among the people 
of the place almost as completely as the sounds with which 
he once roused the echoes of the now empty and deserted 

It must not be supposed, indeed, that even at that time 
his efforts resulted in much outward display. They were 
quite private and unpretending, as were his surroundings, 
and barely extended beyond the limits of the castle concert- 
room. It was only by his journeys that Bach kept up 
any connection with the outer and wider world ; in his 
place of residence he had nothing to do with public life. 
Nevertheless, it was here that he passed the happiest years 
of his life ; here, for a time, he felt so far content that 
he was resigned to end his days in the peaceful little town. 
This seems quite incomprehensible so long as we conceive of 
Bach's artistic side as directed exclusively to sacred music ; 
then, indeed, his residence in Cothen, where he was debarred 
from any occupation in the church, must appear to be lost 
time, and his own satisfaction in it as mere self-deception. 

10 Walther's article in the Lexicon shows again how little he interested him- 
self in the biography of his great contemporary Bach. He does not even know 
that Bach was still in Cothen in 1720, or does not think it worth mentioning. 


But it all becomes natural and intelligible when we do not lose 
sight of the fact that instrumental music that is to say, 
music for music's sake was the aim and essence of his 
being : a fact I have endeavoured to insist on from the first. 
It must have been with a feeling of rapture that for once he 
found himself thrown back exclusively into this his native 
element, to drink from it fresh strength for new struggles 
towards the high ideal that remained hidden from his fellow- 
men. An essential feature of German art becomes more 
conspicuous in Bach at this period of his life than at any 
other : that meditative spirit which is never happy till it 
dwells within narrow bounds the joy of occupation and the 
pleasure of a quiet and homelike circle of a few appreciative 
friends, whose sympathetic glance responds to the deepest 
feelings of the heart. From this German characteristic 
the quartet took its rise ; and its very embodiment was the 
delicious chamber music of Sebastian Bach, which took form 
chiefly in Cothen, and in the first rank of it was the Wohl- 
temperirte Clavier. 11 The musical performances that now took 
place in the castle, when and how often we know not, were of 
an intimate and thoughtful character, and always undertaken 
with a genuine zeal for art ; the gifted young Prince threw 
himself into it, heart and soul ; all the more so since he was 
as yet unmarried. He soon became aware of the treasure he 
had found in Bach, and showed it in the frankest manner. 
He could not bear to part with him he took him on his 
travels, and loved him as a friend ; and after his early 
death Bach always cherished his memory. 

An act of homage, dating probably from the first year of 
his residence in Cothen, was a serenade for the Prince's 
birthday. Having to rely on the modest musical resources 
of the place, he employed in it only one soprano and one 
bass, with an accompaniment of two flutes and one bassoon, 
besides the quartet of strings and harpsichord. 12 The writer 

11 The Well-tempered Clavier i.e., preludes and fugues to be played on a 
clavier tuned according to the system of " equal " temperament, by which 
system all keys are equally in tune, whereas in the unequal temperament, 
formerly in use in tuning claviers, many of the keys could not be employed. 
The work is better known in England by the title Forty-eight Preludes and Fugues. 

u The autograph is in the Royal Library at Berlin. 


of the congratulatory words is not named ; if this was out 
of modesty he had ample reason. At a later period, Bach 
himself is known to have written certain texts for music, 
and, knowing this, we cannot altogether avoid suspecting 
that he may have written these words. Of course some 
other dabbler in verse is quite as likely to have been the 
criminal ; for they are wretched, be the writer who he 
may. But the music covers every deficiency ; in it we 
find a perfect reflection of Bach's spirit at this period. It fits 
the tone of festive feeling in a merely general manner, and 
within the limits of this idea disports itself freely, developing 
all that charm of novel invention and elaborate artistic 
structure of which Bach availed himself with such fasci- 
nating grace in his chamber music. There are seven 
numbers in all : the soprano begins with a recitative and 
aria in D major; the bass follows with an aria in B minor, 
and all the music for this voice is pitched very high, showing 
that it was written for a particular singer. He then goes 
on to the graceful and dignified minuet in G major, the 
soprano continues it in D major, and they presently combine 
in A major, the bass singing the melody, as leading in the 
dance. Then comes a duet in recitative, again an air for 
soprano and one for bass, in D major and A major 
respectively, and finally the closing piece, in two parts 
and in the leading key, inscribed Chorus, by which it 
is intended to distinguish the crowning finale, for the way 
in which the parts are treated prohibits all notion of a 
multiplicity of performers. A happy and self-contented 
spirit smiles from it throughout. In later years the 
composer thought it a pity to leave this noble music 
wedded to its text, and made use of it for a Whitsuntide 
cantata, as he also did of the music written for the 
birthday of the Duke of Weissenfels. 13 

On May 9, 1718, the Prince set out to take the baths at 
Carlsbad, which was at that time a favourite resort of all the 
high personages of Germany, and took with him Bach and 
six members of his band. Again, in 1720, Bach had to 

18 "Erhohtes Fleisch und Blut": this autograph also is in the Ro^aJ Library 
at Berlin. 


accompany the Prince to Carlsbad; 14 an old tradition still 
survives of the way in which Bach was wont to occupy his 
more or less involuntary leisure on these journeys to this I 
will return presently. He received another mark of favour 
in the autumn of the same year, when Maria Barbara gave 
birth to their seventh child a boy on November 15, and on 
the iyth, the Prince stood godfather to the infant, with his 
younger brother August Ludwig, his sister Elenore Wilhel- 
mine who had married into the house of Weimar with 
Privy Councillor Von Zanthier, and the wife of Von Nostiz, 
Steward of the Household. 15 From this it is very evident in 
what high favour Bach must have stood at court. The child 
held at the font with so many honours did not survive his first 
year; he was buried September 28, 1719. A pair of twins had 
already died in February and March, 1713, soon after their 
birth ; but four children lived to grow up as witnesses of a 
calm and happy family life. The firstborn was a daughter, 
Katharina Dorothea, born December 27, 1708; she remained 
unmarried. On November 22, 1710, followed Wilhelm 
Friedemann, his father's remarkable and gifted favourite ; 
then Karl Philipp Emanuel (March 8, 1714), who was the 
most distinguished of the family, though he was not, per- 
haps, the most talented. Finally, Johann Gottfried Bern- 
hard, born May n, I7i5. 16 We shall have occasion to speak 
again of all these sons. 

14 The dates of these journeys are derived from the orders for special prayers 
on both occasions issued by the Chancellor of the Duchy, in the archives at 
Cothen. It seems certain that during the time from 1718 to 1733 the Prince 
was at Carlsbad only on these two occasions, since this agrees with an old 
chronicle of Carlsbad, as I am obligingly informed by Dr. Hlawacek, of that 
town. The musicians were paid in advance, on May 6, their salaries for the 
month of June. 

15 Parish Register of the cathedral church of St. James: " 1718, the i7th of 
November, the Prince's Capellmeister, Herr Johann Sebastian Bach, and his 
wedded wife, Maria Barbara, had a son baptised in the castle chapel, born on 
the i5th ult., named Leopold Augustus." The names of the sponsors follow. 

16 The Parish Registers give the names of all their sponsors, many of whom 
were distinguished by birth or office. Philipp Emanuel, in the Genealogy, gives 
his birthday as March 14 ; but I have adhered to the date in the Register, 
though I must confess it is hardly likely that he should be mistaken as to his 
own birthday. 


As has been said, Bach did not give up his own journeys 
in pursuit of art, even in Cothen; indeed, his personal need 
for them was perhaps greater there than in Weimar. Only 
a few weeks after quitting that town he accepted an invita- 
tion to the university town of Leipzig, in order to test the 
large new organ completed in the Church of St. Paul there, 
on November 4, 1716. The examination took place Decem- 
ber 16, 1717, and was highly favourable to the builder, 
Johann Scheibe ; Bach was greatly satisfied, not only with 
the quality and construction of the separate portions, but 
also with the general arrangement, which he declared to be 
among the completest in Germany. He conducted the 
examination by himself; only two competent witnesses 
accompanied him. 17 

In the autumn of 1719 he made another journey, which 
took him to Halle; this town, no doubt, was not the only 
goal of the excursion, but we hear of his being there from a 
circumstance connected with him. Handel had arrived in 
Germany in the spring, from England, to find singers for 
the newly founded operatic academy in London ; on his 
return journey he remained for a short time with his family 
at Halle, and Bach sought him out, but was so unlucky as 
to find that Handel had that very day set out for England. 
Another attempt made by Bach, ten years later, to make a 
personal acquaintance with the only one of his contempo- 
raries who was in any way his equal was just as unsuccessful. 
Inferences, unfavourable to Handel, have been drawn from 
these incidents, but there is no sufficient reason for supposing 
that he would have repelled Bach's courteous advances. 
We nowhere find any indication that he intentionally took 
himself out of Bach's reach by leaving Halle on the day of 
Bach's arrival there ; while, on the other hand, it is difficult 
to overlook the fact that Bach, in this first attempt at a 
meeting, merely availed himself of an opportunity. Other- 
wise, as Handel had been in Germany since the previous 

lr This incident is recorded by Christoph Ernst Sicul in his Anderer 
Beylage zu dem Leipziger Jahr-Buche (Leipzig, 1718), p. 198; and it is to 
A. Dorffel that the praise is due of having first brought it to light. See 
Musikal. Wochenblatt (Leipzig: E. W. Fritzsch); Annual Series, I., p. 335. 


March, he might have arranged a meeting somewhere or 
other. 18 

On the second occasion, in June, 1729, Bach, who was 
prevented by illness from travelling himself, sent his eldest 
son from Leipzig to Halle, with an invitation to Handel, 
who was staying there on his way from Italy. Handel 
regretted his inability to accept it, and it seems most 
probable that the time he had left was in fact too short. It 
may, however, be confidently denied that it is in any way 
very regrettable in the interests of art that these two men 
should thus have failed to meet ; it would have been 
interesting, no doubt ; and a desire to hear them compete 
is said to have been very prevalent among the lovers 
of music in Leipzig. 19 But the whole object of their 
meeting would have merged in this, and would have ended, 
very certainly, without any decision being arrived at on the 
vexed question as to which of the two should bear off the 
palm, seeing how totally different their natures were. Any 
intercourse leading to reciprocal incitement, such as can only 
be developed from long acquaintance and contact, was out 
of the question, from the dissimilarity of their outward 
circumstances. On the other hand, the judgment goes against 
Handel, without any bias being given by our appreciation of 
Bach's artistic greatness ; for in 1719, when Handel spent eight 
months in Germany, he certainly might have found time for 
making a visit which might have originated with him more 
properly than with Bach, who was occupied with his official 
duties. Added to this, he resided in Dresden and Halle, 
places where Bach's importance as an artist was fresh 
in the minds of living witnesses, and he must there have 
heard the most splendid reports of the great composer who 
was working in his immediate neighbourhood. No facts 
have come to light that prove him to have taken any 
interest in Bach's works ; Bach, on the contrary, not only 
purposed more than once to make Handel's personal ac- 
quaintance, but bore emphatic witness to the value he 

18 I entirely agree in Chrysander's views as to this incident. Handel, II., p. 
18, note. 

19 Forkel, p. 47. 


attributed to his works. Handel's music to Brookes' text 
for a " Passion Music " is still extant in a manuscript of 
sixty leaves, of which the twenty-three first (exclusive of the 
last two staves) were copied by Bach's own hand, and the 
remainder by his wife. The parts of a very meritorious 
Concerto Grosso in seven movements, by Handel, also exist 
in Bach's handwriting. 20 The same is the case with a solo 
cantata by Handel, of which Bach even seems to have 
possessed the original autograph, for this and Bach's parts 
are now in the hands of the same owners. 21 It is with 
particular satisfaction that I am able to point out these 
indications of a magnanimous artist, free from all envy or 
prejudice. A few words will yet remain to be said as to 
their reciprocal relations as organists. 

On May 27 of the following year Prince Leopold again 
went to Carlsbad ; he must have returned in July. When 
Bach entered his home, full of the happy prospect of 
seeing his family, he was met with the overwhelming news 
that on the yth of the month his wife had been buried. He 
had left her in good health and spirits ; now a sudden death 
had snatched her away in the bloom of life, not yet thirty- 
six years old, without any news of it having reached her 
distant husband, who, indeed, had probably begun his return 
journey. When his son, Philipp Emanuel, thirty-three years 
after, compiled the notice of his father for the Necrology, 
though he treated many family events with the brevity of 
a chronicler, his mother's death and the circumstances con- 
nected with it dwelt so vividly in his memory that he 

10 Both these MSS. are in the Royal Library at Berlin. The name of the 
author is wanting to the last, of which Dr. Rust has arranged a score. Dr. 
Chrysander informs me that the work is unquestionably Handel's, since the 
motives of the concerto reappear in later works by him. It has indeed struck 
me that certain passages of the third number, a fugue, have a remarkable 
resemblance to the double canon treatment of the final chorus of the " Messiah." 
In the fifth movement, on the other hand, there are passages which recur almost 
precisely in the B flat minor Prelude in Part I. of the Wohltemperirte Clavier, 
bars 20-22. 

21 Messrs. Breitkopf and Hartel, of Leipzig. The cantata is entitled " Armida 
Abbandonata"; the parts written out by Bach at his Leipzig period are those for 
the first and second violins and continue. Chrysander pronounces the autograph 
to be Handel's, and he is an unimpeachable authority. 


reported it in detail. But we do not need his evidence to 
believe in Sebastian's grief ; it is easy to guess the feelings 
that must have tortured his strong, deep nature as he stood 
by the grave of the wife who had been his companion through 
the years of his youthful endeavour, and of his first success, 
only to be snatched from him when fortune was at its height. 

We know too little of Maria Barbara Bach to attempt to 
sketch her character. But, remembering the intelligent 
nature of her father, and the happy, naive temper of her 
second son who appears to have greatly resembled his 
mother, while the father fancied he saw himself reproduced 
in the eldest we have grounds for picturing to ourselves 
a calm and kindly nature, with enough musical gift to 
sympathise keenly with her husband's labours ; a wife who 
enabled him to enjoy in his home that which was one of 
his deepest needs, the family life of an honourable and 
worthy citizen. 

His terrible loss did not crush Bach's energy ; he bore it 
manfully. A journey to Hamburg, which he had planned 
for the autumn, was not given up ; still there is reason to 
suppose that he put it off for several weeks. The cantata, 
" Wer sich selbst erhohet der soil erniedrigt werden," 22 stands 
as evidence of this. The text is taken from a cycle of poems 
which was printed in 1720, by order of the government 
secretary, Johann Friedrich Helbig, at Eisenach, for the use 
of the band there. 28 In Cb'then itself, as no church music 
was performed there, no such texts were procurable. When 
Bach desired to compose a cantata he had to look elsewhere 
for the poetic materials ; and, again, the impulse to such a 
work could only arise from journeys which took him to places 

B.-G., x., No. 47. 

M " Auffmunterung | Zur | Andacht, | oder: | Musicalische | Texte, | iiber | 
Die gewohnlichen Sonn- und | Fest- Tags Evangelien durchs | gantze Jahr, | 
Gott zu Ehren | auffgefuhret | Von | Der Hoch-Fiirstl. Capelle | zu Eisenach. | 
[Incitements to Devotion, or Musical Texts on the Gospels in use for Sundays 
and Holydays thoughout the whole year. Performed in God's honour by the 
Prince's band at Eisenach.] Daselbst gedruckt und zu finden bey Johann | 
Adolph Boetio, 1720. | " A copy is in the library of the Count of Stolberg, at 
Wernigerode. There is a notice of Helbig in Mattheson, Ehrenpforte, under 
*' Melchior Hofmann," p. 118. 


where church music was cherished, and into the society of 
famous church composers. Thus he selected the text for the 
Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity out of this very indifferent 
poetry which, however, came home to him as being that of a 
fellow-countryman intending to visit Hamburg and to have 
his cantata performed there. It also seems highly probable 
that he set it to music during his excursion to Carlsbad ; 
crushed, however, immediately after by the blow he had 
suffered, he was unable to carry out this project, and did 
not reach Hamburg till November. 24 Whether the cantata 
was then and there performed it is impossible to know ; 
perhaps it was once, irrespective of Divine service. From 
beginning to end it is the expression of the most complete 
structural power, and it surpasses his earlier works more 
particularly by the scope and extent of the grand intro- 
ductory chorus on the final words of the gospel for the day : 
" He that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that 
humbleth himself shall be exalted." No chorale is introduced, 
but the whole, in agreement with the text, is made into 
a double fugue; still its second theme undergoes no inde- 
pendent development. 

The great stride forward marked by this piece, when com- 
pared with Bach's earlier works for instruments and voices, 
is conspicuous, not merely in the bold, broad grasp of the 
parts and their stately, free movement, even where they are 
most intricate not only in the grandeur of the proportions, 
but above all in the fact that the master was no longer satisfied 
with allowing the instruments to take part in the fugal 
treatment or to work out a particular motive, but, on the 
contrary, gave them a theme of their own, thus building up 
his palace of sound out of the material of three distinct 
ideas. Still, as the instrumental theme appears in homo- 
phonic harmony, the structure necessarily became something 
else than that of a triple fugue. When we hear the begin- 
ning of the movement, in G minor, common time, allegro, it 
is difficult to believe that a choral work can grow out of it ; 
it is like the beginning of an Italian concerto, with its 

84 See Appendix A, No. I. 


stringed instruments, oboes and organ. First comes a tutti 
theme, to which is added the contrast of busy passages ; the 
dominant is led up to in the regular way, and the same 
development is worked out upon it ; then, at bar 45, we return 
to the leading key. But there the tenor takes us by surprise 
with the entrance of the eight-bar theme, which rises and falls 
through an octave ; after which the counter-subject, nine 
bars long, comes in, descends an octave and a half, and then 
shoots up again with a swift, strong flight. Meanwhile the 
instruments continue to work out their tutti theme, piano, and 
in the manner of an episode, but at last the main current 
sweeps them up also, and bears them on. After a cadence on 
B flat there comes a shorter episodic interlude, derived from the 
alternation of the chorus and the instruments ; then, again, 
a grand fugal movement, as at first ; another interlude ; again 
a fugal passage ; and, to form a coda, as it were, the whole 
chorus takes up the instrumental subject of the beginning; 
the whole forty-five bars are gone through with the entire body 
of sound, so that the picture is grandly rounded off, and it 
closes in dignified magnificence. It is a composition born 
of the most supreme command over all the forms of music, 
great and small, and which at the same time affords the 
most perfect solution conceivable of the problem as to the 
amalgamation of instrumental and vocal music. After 
this introductory movement no increase of mere effect 
could lie within Bach's view ; he was content in this, as in 
all similar cases, to let the cantata flow directly into the 
symbolical and significant form of the simple chorale. 
Intermediate between the two are two arias, connected by a 
recitative. The first, of which the moralising words were 
most intractable to poetic treatment, is a most ingenious 
trio for soprano, continue and organ obbligato or solo violin, 
and no less a masterpiece in its way. The second is still 
finer in polyphonic richness, and at the same time glows 
with noble poetic feeling. 

Telemann, who had always been capellmeisterat Eisenach, 
and still was so, also composed music to this text. 26 The 

24 An ancient MS. in the Gotthold Library at Konigsberg (Prussia), No. 
250,862 of the catalogue. 


Bible words themselves made the commencement with a 
double fugue obvious; it is a singular coincidence that he 
should have chosen the same key as Bach. In everything 
else the gulf between them, which was visible in their earlier 
works, yawns more widely than ever. Telemann works out his 
fugue of thirty-eight bars, common time (Bach's has two 
hundred and twenty-eight bars), shortly and dryly, and with- 
out warming to it at all ; the instruments only strengthen the 
voice parts. Of the rest of the text he only composed the 
second aria and set the chorale ; the air is not even cast in the 
Italian form, and has the simplest possible accompaniment. 

Bach subsequently troubled himself no farther about 
Helbig's texts, which he had used merely for want of 
better, with one exception, and that again must have been 
because he had no choice ; for it is evident that in hurriedly 
arranging the cantata for the third Sunday in Advent of that 
same year, " Das ist je gewisslich wahr " " This is certainly 
the truth " he worked up earlier compositions in the first 
chorus (G major, common time) ; it is impossible to doubt 
that it is founded on what was originally a duet, particularly 
if we compare it with the almost identical style of the 
opening chorus in the second arrangement of the Whitsun- 
tide cantata, " Wer mich liebet " " Whoso loves me." 26 
In bars 52 and 53 of the first aria the bad adaptation to the 
text betrays him. We cannot expect to find any great merit 
in such hasty work, though it contains much that is pleasing 
nay, beautiful. 27 

Johann Reinken was still living in Hamburg, and, in 
spite of his ninety-seven years, still officiated as Organist in 
the Church of St. Katharine with much energy and vigour. 
He was held in higher respect than any of his fellow officials 
in the city, not only by reason of his great age, but also on 
account of his distinction as an artist, of which I have 
already spoken in detail. To Bach, who as a youth had 
derived benefit in the most direct way from Reinken's art, it 

B.-G., XVIII., No. 74. 

27 I only know this cantata from the copy in the Royal Library at Berlin. The 
final chorale is absent ; according to the text it should be " Christe du Lamm 


must have been very delightful to present himself to the 
veteran master as a perfectly accomplished musician. What 
we learn of Reinken's character is not, on the whole, favour- 
able ; he was not only conscious of his own merit, but vain, 
and jealous of other artists. His predecessor in office had 
been Heinrich Scheidemann, so fine an organist that any one 
might have been regarded as somewhat rash who ventured 
to succeed him ; so, at least, a great Dutch musician said, 
when he learnt that Reinken was to take his place. Reinken, 
hearing of this, sent him his arrangement of the chorale, 
" An Wasserfliissen Babylon," with this note : That in this 
he might see the image of the rash man. The Dutchman, 
finding that through this certainly very remarkable work he 
had made the acquaintance of a man who was his superior, 
came to Hamburg, heard Reinken, and when he met him 
kissed his hands in admiration. 28 

Mattheson, who in the matter of vanity could do some- 
thing himself, indignantly observes that Reinken, in the 
title-page to his Hortus Musicus, styles himself, Organi Ham- 
burgensis ad Diva Catharince Directorum celebratissimum, 39 
and in general he finds nothing good to say of him ; but 
this was Reinken's own fault, for he would never forgive 
Mattheson for the fact that at one time it had been proposed 
to give him his (Reinken's) place. 80 Mattheson took his 
revenge by all sorts of petty hits in the " Beschiitztes 
Orchestre"; and, in the brief obituary notice which he be- 
stowed on him, 81 he even says : " As regards his social 
character, one and another of the clergy have at times been 
known to say that he was a constant admirer of the fair 
sex, and much addicted to the wine-cellar of the Council." 
Still, he cannot avoid admitting that he kept his organ at 
all times in beautiful order and in good tune, and that he 

28 Walther, Lexicon, sub voce " Scheidemann." 

29 Ehrenpforte, p. 293. But Mattheson, consciously or unconsciously, does 
not here speak the truth. Reinken, on the title-page of the Hortus Musicus, 
writes, " Organi Hamburgensis ad D. Cathar. celebratissimi Director." Hence 
it is the organ, and not the organist, that he says is famous. 

80 Adlung, Anl. zur Mus. Gel., p. 183. Reinken's deputy and successor was 
Johann Heinrich Uthmoller (1720-1752). 
11 Crit. Mus., I., p. 255. 

BACH AT HAMBURG, 1720. 17 

could play it in so exceptional and pure a style "that, in his 
time, he had no equal in the matters he was practised in"; 
adding, maliciously, that he was always talking of his organ, 
for it was really very fine in tone. 

These observations are a necessary introduction to our 
comprehension, in all its significance, of Reinken's attitude 
towards Bach. At an appointed hour the magistrate of the 
town, and many other important personages, met in St. 
Katharine's Church to hear the stranger perform. He 
played for more than two hours, to the admiration of every 
one; but his greatest triumph was won by an improvisation 
on "An Wasserflussen Babylon," which he carried on for 
nearly half an hour in the broad, motett-like manner of the 
northern masters, with which we are already familiar. 
Reinken came up to him, having listened attentively through- 
out, and said : " I thought this art was dead ; but I perceive 
that it still lives in you." 82 Irrespective of the high recog- 
nition it conveys, there is more in this than mere self- 
conceit ; but, in fact, Bach's mental culture had long since 
advanced far beyond that stage of organ chorale treatment. 
Still it is an evidence of his extraordinary mastery over the 
whole realm of form in music, that he could deliberately 
revert to it so promptly and so perfectly. He has not left 
us any written version of what he played, then and there, 
on the spur of the moment ; but it has been already re- 
marked, when speaking of the organ chorale with double 
pedal, on this same melody, that it may have had some 
connection with the Hamburg journey. It is quite conceiv- 
able that he should have worked it up previously, and have 
laid it before Reinken as a specimen of imitative art in both 
subject and treatment ; and then, still further to accom- 
modate himself to Reinken's comprehension, have gone on 
following out his imagination in the way to which "the worthy 
organists of Hamburg were formerly accustomed in Sunday 
vespers." Possibly he added something to it, as he did, 
twenty-seven years later, to a theme set him by Friedrich 
the Great. At any rate, Reinken was so well satisfied that 

** Mizler, Nekrolog., p. 165. 


he invited Bach to visit him, and treated him with distin- 
guished attention. Two years later he departed this life, 
November 24, 1722, and was buried, by his own wish, in the 
Church of St. Katharine, at Liibeck, where his kindred spirit, 
Buxtehude, had already been resting for fifteen years. Rein- 
ken had seen, in its full and glorious bloom what Buxtehude 
had only noted in its bud the genius of the man who was 
destined to reach the summit to which they had so success- 
fully opened the way. 

Bach was perfectly happy with the organ of St. Katha- 
rine's (Hamburg), with its four manuals and pedal. It is 
interesting to learn that he was greatly in favour of good 
reeds, and these he found in abundance. 83 The organ 
also possessed a posaune, and a "principal" (i.e., diapason) 
of thirty-two feet which spoke clearly and quickly down 
to C, and Bach subsequently asserted that he had never 
heard another "principal" of such a size which had this 
merit. The instrument was not new ; it dated at least 
from the sixteenth century, and had been renovated, in 1670, 
by the organ-builder Besser, of Brunswick. 34 It preserved 
a remnant of older taste in a mixture of ten ranks. But 
this was not the only organ for which Hamburg was famous. 
The instrument in the Church of St. James was still more 
powerful as regards the number of stops, and had like- 
wise four manuals and pedals ; it was built, between 1688 
and 1693, by the Hamburg organ-builder Arp Schnitker, 85 
who had given proof of his remarkable skill in other 
churches in the city. Among this crowd of fine instru- 
ments Bach's affectionate longing for his own special pro- 
vince of music revived all the more strongly because, quite 
unexpectedly, a prospect opened before him of finding a 
suitable position in Hamburg. Heinrich Friese, the Organist 

M Adlung, Mus. Mech., I., p. 66, note. The specification is given in Niedt. 
Mus. Handl., II., p. 176. 

84 H. Schmahl, Nachrichten iiber die Orgel der St. Catharinen-Kirche in Ham- 
burg. Hamburg: Griming, 1869, pp. 4-8. 

' H. Schmahl, Bericht iiber die Orgel der St. Jacobi-Kirche. Hamburg, 1866. 
Gerber, N. L., IV., col. 106. This organ had sixty sounding stops, and was 
restored in 1865-66. 


of St. James's, had died, September 12, 1720; so short a time, 
therefore, before Bach had arrived there that it is probable 
that he had not heard of it till then. It is, at any rate, 
certain that the aim and end of his journey was not to seek 
this appointment, since he had prepared for the expedition 
in the summer by composing a cantata. However, as it had 
so happened, he offered himself. Not a little tempting must 
have been the circumstance that Erdmann Neumeister was 
chief preacher at this church ; he could hardly have pictured 
to himself a more promising perspective for composing for 
the organ as well as cantatas, and for the practice of every 
branch of his art, than that which opened on him here. 

Seven other candidates came forward besides himself, 
mostly unknown names; but a son of the excellent Vincentius 
Liibeck, and Wiedeburg, Capellmeister to the Count of Gera, 
were among the number. On November 21 the elders of 
the church, among whom was Neumeister, resolved on 
holding the examination on the 28th, and to select as 
experts, to aid in their decision, Joachim Gerstenbuttel, the 
cantor of the church, Reinken, and two other organists of 
the town, named Kniller and Preuss. Bach could not wait 
so long; his Prince required his return by November 23. 
Three of the other candidates, including Wiedeburg and 
Liibeck, had already retired, so that there were but four to 
submit to the tests, which consisted in the performance of 
two chorales " O lux beata Trinitas," and " Helft mir 
Gott's Giite preisen " with an extemporised fugue on a 
given theme. The election was not to be held till Decem- 
ber 19. Bach had promised to announce, by letter from 
Cothen, whether he chose to accept or decline the ap- 
pointment; and that it should have come to this, without 
his being required to pass any examination, proves that he 
had been regarded as particularly eligible, and distinguished 
above the other candidates. Unfortunately, nothing is known 
as to the contents of his answer. So much as this alone is 
certain he did not decline the post ; the letter was publicly 
read to the committee, and then, by a majority of votes, 
they elected Johann Joachim Heitmann. What he had 
ever done in his art is less well known than the fact that, on 

C 2 


January 6, 1721, he paid over to the treasury of the Church 
of St. James " the promised sum of four thousand marks 
current," in acknowledgment of having been elected. A 
transaction in view of this, by the church committee, had 
already been recorded with astonishing frankness, on 
November 21. They had come to the conclusion : " That, 
no doubt, many reasons might be found why the sale of the 
organist's appointment should not be made a custom, 
because it appertained to the service of God ; therefore the 
choice should be free, and the capability of the candidate 
be considered rather than the money. But if, after the 
election, the elected person, of his free will, desired to show 
his gratitude, this should be favourably looked upon by the 

Neumeister was extremely indignant at this proceeding, 
which he had not been able to prevent ; he probably would 
rather have brought Bach into his church than any one. 
After the election, he would not wait till the nominee came, 
but left the room in a rage. What further happened, and 
what the public opinion was of the choice made, we will let 
Mattheson tell, as he was intimately acquainted with all the 
details. " I remember," says he in 1728 " and, no doubt, 
many other people still remember likewise that some years 
ago a great musician, who since then has, as he deserves, 
obtained an important appointment as cantor, appeared as 
organist in a certain town of some size, boldly performed on 
the largest and finest instruments, and attracted universal 
admiration by his skill. At the same time, among other 
inferior players, there offered himself the son of a well-to-do 
artisan, who could prelude with thalers better than he could 
with his fingers, and the office fell to him, as may easily be 
guessed, although almost every one was angry about it. It 
was nigh upon Christmastide, and an eloquent preacher, 
who had not consented to this simony, expounded very 
beautifully the gospel concerning the angelic music at the 
birth of Christ, which, very naturally, gave him the oppor- 
tunity of expressing his opinions as to the recent event as 
regarded the rejected artist, and of ending his discourse with 
this noteworthy epiphonema. He believed quite certainly 


that if one of the angels of Bethlehem came from heaven, 
who played divinely, and desired to be organist to St. 
James's church, if he had no money he would have nothing 
to do but to fly away again." 86 

The homage to Bach's merits which Mattheson was 
obliged to pay and, in this passage, does pay was some- 
what bitter to him, if we are not deceived by appearances. 
The only place in which he speaks of him with warm 
admiration is in the " Beschiitztes Orchestre," written four 
years earlier. 87 If we collect out of all his numerous 
writings the few paragraphs which refer to Bach, we come 
to the conclusion that, though he never under-estimates him, 
he judges him narrowly; his heart is always cold towards 
him ; and we feel as though Bach must have been to him 
one of those distant and puzzling natures whom we are com- 
pelled by our intellects to admire, but who have no hold on 
our feelings. It is not safe to assume that Bach ignored 
and so offended a man who was no doubt eminent, though 
he had more reason for ignoring him than had Handel, who, 
from 1703 to 1706, had lived in constant intercourse with 
Mattheson, and who never again sought his acquaintance, 
though he often was in Germany afterwards, and passed 
through Hamburg. Mattheson had politely requested Bach 
to furnish him with the facts of his life for the " Ehren- 
pforte." He already enjoyed a considerable reputation as a 
writer on musical subjects ; and Bach must have seen 
that this request was a compliment, although he never 
acceded to it. But their natures were too dissimilar. It is 
perfectly evident that Bach did not think much of the Ham- 
burg composer's music : he could copy out the works of 
Reiser and Telemann, but it is not known that he ever did 
the same with Mattheson's, though he formed the third of 
the trio ; and as a busy, practical musician, he had neither 
time nor inclination to form an estimate of his literary work. 

16 Mattheson, Der Musicalische Patriot (Hamburg, 1728), p. 316. Herr 
Schmahl, the present Organist of St. James's, has been so obliging as to write 
out for me all that refers to the matter in question in the archives of the church. 

87 See ante, Vol. I., p. 393. 


Now Mattheson was very vain ; he thought that artists ought 
to flock to him to prove their devotion, to crave his counsel 
and instruction ; and such as did he mentioned at great 
length in his books : " In August, 1720, an organist came 
from Bremen and had himself taught composition by Matthe- 
son, for which he paid highly "; " My Lord Carteret arrived 
in Hamburg (November 8) from his embassy to Sweden, 
and took such pleasure in our Mattheson's music, that he 
once sat for two whole hours listening to him, without 
stirring from the spot ; and at last, in presence of the whole 
assembly, he pronounced this judgment : ' Handel certainly 
plays the clavier finely and skilfully, but he does not make 
it sing with so much taste and expression.'" So the man 
writes of himself. 88 It sounds almost as if he were trying 
to indemnify himself when we consider that this compliment 
was paid him by the ambassador at the very time when 
Bach happened to be in Hamburg. If there had been any- 
thing to accrue to his fame in his meeting with Bach, he 
certainly would not have forgotten it in his autobiography; 
but he does not say a syllable about it. 

The carping criticism which he published a few years after 
of the cantata " Ich hatte viel Bekiimmerniss," and which 
is fully discussed in its place, can only be accounted for by 
wounded vanity. And when he praised Bach subsequently 
it was always with an invidious distinction as to his execu- 
tion or his clever settings. 89 We learn that he already knew a 
good deal of Bach's work in the year 1716, both of chamber 
pieces and church music. On the present occasion he had 
no doubt heard and seen much that was new perhaps 
the criticised cantata and new organ pieces. It is singular, 
and again only explicable by his feelings towards Bach, 
that, several years after, he betrays some such knowledge, 
and, contrary to his usual boasting of information, tries to 

88 Ehrenpforte, p. 206. 

* " The famous Bach, whom I have already mentioned honourably, and here 
mention again especially for manual skill," &c., Volk. Capellm., p. 412 ; " The 
artistic Bach, who was particularly happy in this department " (the construction 
of fugues on a given theme), &c. ; ibid., p. 369. 


conceal it. In the second edition of the " General Bass- 
Schule" 40 he states that, in a test performance on the organ, 
the candidates had given to them the following theme 


t ' 



1 ! 


to work out extempore, with this 

to be treated as the counter-subject. Now this is the 
theme of one of Bach's most magnificent organ fugues, 
and the counterpoint is also of his invention. Mattheson 
does not mention this, and only observes, in a note, 
that he knows very well with whom the idea originated, 
and who formerly had worked it out with great skill. 
He chose it because it was wiser in such cases to take 
something familiar, so that the examinee might get through 
with a better grace. Nevertheless, we are grateful to 
him for this notice. It tells us that this fugue of Bach's 
was known to a wide circle as early as in 1725. It leads us 
to suppose that the composer may have taken it with him in 
1720, and to imagine the sensation made by its appearance 
in the circle of organists there for the organist examined by 
Mattheson must have been a native of Hamburg, or of the 
neighbourhood. Finally, it tells us that the fugue in its 
present state must be a later remodelling, for the theme is 
now wonderfully improved by two small alterations. The 
prelude belonging to this work is strong evidence of its 
having been originally composed on purpose for the Ham- 
burg journey. It is conspicuously different from the 
thematic treatment of the later Weimar period, reverting, 
indeed, to the imaginative style of the northern masters. 41 

Here, too, Bach seems to have wished to meet the Ham- 
burg organists on their own most peculiar ground. Bursting 
torrents of ornament, imitative episodes, organ recitatives, 

40 Called also Exemplarische Organisten-Probe, Hamburg, 1731, p. 34. 

41 Prelude and fugue, B.-G., XV., p. 177. P. S. V., C. 2 (241), No. 4. In this 
a variant is also given, which, however, seems to me to be due to accident. No 
manuscript has as yet come to light containing the oldest form of the fugue. 


the boldest modulations, and broad, resonant progressions 
of chords all are here in apparent disorder. And yet the 
mature genius of Bach presides over it and informs it all. 
The close answers exactly to the ornate commencement ; the 
polyphonic movement in bars 9 to 13 are precisely the 
same as bars 25 to 30 ; the organ recitative bars 14 to 24 
are balanced by the free harmonies of bars 31 to 40. Even 
in the modulations, which almost beat Buxtehude in auda- 
city, a plan is clearly traceable ; they rise from a bar 14 
by degrees through B minor, C minor, up to d, then to 
E flat minor, of which the bass seizes the dominant, and 
thence proceeds upwards by six chromatic steps; to corre- 
spond to this, the harmonic body subsequently descends from 
d bar 31 through C minor, B flat minor, A flat minor, 
after which the six chromatic steps up from B begin in the 
pedal. It is necessary to keep the outline of the prelude 
resolutely in mind at first, in order not to be confused by the 
swift runs, and deafened by the heavy masses of sound; but 
presently we become accustomed to it, and not only recog- 
nise the purpose and method of the work, but feel it too; 
while in similar pieces by Buxtehude, and particularly in 
the interludes to his fugues in several parts, there is rarely 
any plan at all. We are also struck by the wide difference 
between this and earlier works by Bach, in which Buxte- 
hude's influence could be seen ; its remarkable peculiarities 
can only be accounted for by referring it to some special 
incident in Bach's history ; and it seems most obvious to 
suppose that this was the Hamburg journey. 

The most beautiful contrast to this is offered by the 
grand, calm modulations and strict four-part treatment of 
the fugue, which is a long one, and which, on the other 
hand, certainly bears some relationship to Reinken ; hence 
the hypothesis that it was composed in 1720 is further con- 
firmed. The theme, particularly, has an unmistakable 
resemblance with the fifth sonata of Reinken's Hortus 
Musicus. It begins thus : 


We may unhesitatingly view this resemblance as an 


intentional allusion, and therefore a certain homage to 
Reinken. A musician of the last century spoke of the 
G minor fugue as "the very best pedal piece by Herr Johann 
Sebastian Bach." I modify this verdict only so far as to say 
that no other fugue appears to stand above it. It is in view 
of such a production as this that we are justified in making 
what may seem an exaggerated assertion namely, that there 
never was a fugue written by any other composer that could 
compare with one of Sebastian Bach's. 42 We have shown 
how highly Buxtehude's works of the same kind are to be 
esteemed, and it cannot be disputed that in a few clavier 
fugues Handel proved himself Bach's equal ; but this soaring 
imagination, this lavish and inexhaustible variety of form 
again, this crystal lucidity and modest naturalism, this lofty 
gravity and deep contentment which strikes awe into the 
hearer, and at the same time makes him shout with joy 
all this is so unique in its combined effect, that every notion 
of a comparison with others appears preposterous. Once, and 
only once, has anything been produced in the whole realm 
of instrumental music which can be set by the side of these 
most perfect organ fugues by Bach namely, Beethoven's 

The mention of Mattheson brings us once more to a 
comparison and contrast of Bach and Handel this time, 
however, not as men, but as organists. That Bach had no 
equal in Germany in playing the organ was soon an admitted 
fact ; friends and foes alike here bowed to the irresistible 
force of an unheard-of power of execution, and could hardly 
comprehend how he could twist his fingers and his feet so 
strangely and so nimbly, and spread them out to make the 
widest leaps without hitting a single false note, or displacing 
his body with violent swaying. 43 But from England, on the 
other hand, Handel's growing fame had reached Germany, 
not only as a composer of opera and oratorio, but as an 
unapproachable organ-player. So far as England was con- 
cerned, that was not saying too much, but other foreigners 

** Forkel, p. 33. 

48 Scheibe, Kritischer Musikus. New ed., 1745, pp. 839, 875. 


who had heard him there brought the same news ; and 
as he was a German, the comparison with Bach was 
obvious, while Bach's cantatas, Passion Music, and masses 
were scarcely appreciated in the contemporary world as 
compared with Handel's music. The attempt made by his 
Leipzig friends, in 1729, to bring about a meeting of 
the two players miscarried, so opinions and assertions could 
spread unchecked. Some came from England full of 
Handel's praises, but saying nevertheless that there was but 
one Bach in the world, and that no one could compare with 
him; others, on the other hand, were of opinion that Handel 
played more touchingly and gracefully, Bach with more art 
and inspiration, and it was always the one then playing who 
at the moment seemed the greatest. 44 

In one thing all were agreed : that if there was any one 
who could depose Bach, it could be none but Handel ; as, 
however, the names of those who formed this judgment 
have remained unknown, and we are no longer able 
to determine how far they were competent, it may 
be considered a happy accident that Mattheson heard 
both the masters, and has recorded his opinion. 45 Soon 
after the transactions of 1720, he writes that among the 
younger composers he had met with no one who displayed 
such skill in double fugues as Handel, whether in setting 
them or in extemporising, as he had heard him do, with 
great admiration, a hundred times. 46 A very laudatory 
general opinion of Bach has been already quoted ; and in a 
remark written later they are set in direct comparison, as 
follows : " Particularly, no one can easily surpass Handel 
in organ-playing, unless it were Bach, of Leipzig ; for which 
reason these two are mentioned first, out of their alphabetical 
order. I have heard them in the prime of their powers, and 

44 Scheibe, ibid., pp. 843, 875, note 15. 

46 Peter Kellner also heard them both play (F. W. Marpurg, Historisch- 
Kritische Beytrage, I., p. 444. Berlin, 1754), but his verdict remains unknown. 
Ph. Emanuel Bach, on the other hand, records his judgment, but only from 
hearsay and suppositions, as to Handel's playing. See his letter to Eschenburg, 
in Nohl, Musikerbriefe, ed. 2, p. XLIX. Leipzig: Duncker und Humblot, 1873. 

Crit. Mus., I., p. 326. 


have often competed with the former, both in Hamburg and 
in Liibeck." 47 It is beyond a doubt that Mattheson was 
quite competent to pronounce judgment in such a case ; he 
was a musician of incontestably sound training. But I 
regard it as equally beyond a doubt that in this instance his 
information is wholly worthless. Mattheson's recollection 
of Handel's organ-playing dated from the days of their 
youth, when they were much together days which, as he 
grew older, he recalled with peculiar pleasure. The ex- 
perience is universal that favourable judgments cherished in 
youth are apt to persist, in spite of our progressive develop- 
ment, even when the subject of our interest is never again 
within reach for the verification of the opinion ; and this 
was the case here. Mattheson had never heard Handel 
play since I7O6. 48 Even if he had, his decision might have 
remained the same, because Handel's proclivities as an 
artist were far more sympathetic than Bach's to Mattheson, 
who had grown up under the influence of the opera more 
particularly of Reiser's opera and who, while still young, 
had become indifferent to organ music. 49 And this sympathy 
did not cease to exist, in spite of Handel's distant behaviour; 
still, it is an error to assert that after 1720 Mattheson showed 
a warm interest in Bach. 60 I have already stated that 
this was not the case, and a collation of the passages from 
Mattheson's writings relating to Handel and Bach reveals 
his attitude very clearly. Finally, it is of some importance 
to note that vanity would prompt him to set Handel's 
importance as an organist as high as possible, for had he 
not competed with him in Hamburg and Liibeck ? The 
notable mode of expression used in the sentence quoted 
not free from partisanship, but only wavering also had 
its origin in the want of lucidity and the indecision of 
the writer, whose inclination and judgment balanced on 

47 Vollk. Capellmeister (Hamburg), 1739, p. 479. 

48 Chrysander has shown that Handel was already in Italy in 1707. Handel, 
I., p. 139. 

4U This is very conspicuous in the " neu eroffnetes Orchestre." 
50 Compare Chrysander, Handel, III., pp. 211-213 ; his views throughout are 
opposed to mine. 


opposite sides. All attempts to explain it away are vain ; for 
this purpose he is useless. 

We may, however, accept his statements about Handel as 
a player and composer of double fugues, for there is at any 
rate something characteristic in it ; but this brings us back 
to deciding upon internal grounds, which is, in fact, what 
we must do with the whole question. It must all rest on 
this : to which of the two musicians organ music was of the 
deepest vital significance. Handel, too, had derived his first 
training from a German organist, and had been one himself, 
for a while, in his youth; but he turned towards other aims, 
ending at last by using the organ as a musical means, one 
among others in the general mass of instruments he 
employed, but merely as a support or to introduce external 
embellishments. Bach started from the organ, and remained 
faithful to it to the last day of his life. All his productions 
in other departments or, at any rate, all his sacred com- 
positions are merely an expansion and development of 
his organ music; this was to him the basis of all creation, 
the vivifying soul of every form he wrought out. Conse- 
quently in this he, of the two composers, must have been 
capable of the greatest work the greatest, not merely in 
technical completeness, but also in the perfect adaptation of 
its purport to the instrument. When once we are clear as 
to this, the accounts handed down to us are equally clear, 
and leave no doubt in our minds that Handel's organ-playing 
was not, properly speaking, characterised by style in the 
highest sense was not that which is, as it were, conceived 
and born of the nature of the instrument. It was more 
touching and graceful than Bach's; but the proper function 
of the organ is neither to touch nor to flatter the ear. 
Handel adapted to the organ ideas drawn from the stores of 
his vast musical wealth, which included all the art of his 
time, just as he did to any other instrument. In this way 
he evolved an exoteric meaning, intelligible to all, and hence 
the popular effect. To him the organ was an instrument for 
the concert-room, not for the church. It corresponds to this 
conception that we have no compositions by Handel for the 
organ alone, while it was precisely by these that Bach's 


fame was to a great extent kept up till this century; but we 
have by Handel a considerable number of organ concertos 
with instrumental accompaniment, and adapted with 
brilliant effect to chamber music. 

His fondness for the double fugue an older, simpler and 
not very rich form, of which, however, the materials are 
easier to grasp, and which is therefore more generally 
intelligible, can also be referred to his exceptional attitude 
towards the organ ; and so no less may the improvisatory 
manner which was peculiar to his playing and to his clavier 
compositions, which came close to the limits of organ music; 
while the organ which, both in character and application, 
is essentially a church instrument must be handled with 
the utmost collectedness of mind and an absolute suppression 
of the mood of the moment. It is in the highest degree 
probable that Handel whose technical skill was certainly 
supreme with his grand flow of ideas, and his skill in 
availing himself of every quality of an instrument, pro- 
duced unheard-of effects in his improvisations on the organ. 
But even the more fervid and captivating of these effects 
must have been very different from Bach's sublimer style. 
I must at least contravene what has been asserted by an 
otherwise thoughtful judge 51 namely, that he was surpassed 
on this one point taking it for granted that improvisation is 
to be criticised by its intrinsic musical worth, and not merely 
by its transient and immediate effect. At a time when so 
much importance was attached to extempore music, which 
indeed, as an exercise in thorough-bass, was part of the 
musical curriculum everywhere, it would have been most 
strange if the man whose whole being as an artist was 
wrapped up in the organ, and who had exhausted its powers 
in every direction, had not risen to a corresponding height 
in this point also. The express testimony of his sons and 
pupils as to his " admirable and learned manner of fanciful 
playing" i.e., improvising as to the "novelty, singularity, 
expressiveness and beauty of his inspirations at the moment, 
and their perfect rendering," stands in evidence. " When he 

61 Chrysander, p. 213. 


sat down to the organ, irrespective of Divine service, as he 
was often requested to do by strangers, he would choose 
some theme, and play it in every form of organ composition 
in such a way that the matter remained the same, even 
when he had played uninterruptedly for two hours or more. 
First he would use the theme as introductory, and for a 
fugue with full organ. Then he would show his skill in 
varying the stops, in a trio, a quartet or what not, still on 
the same theme. Then would follow a chorale, and with its 
melody the first theme would again appear in three or four 
different parts, and in the most various and intricate develop- 
ment. Finally, the close would consist of a fugue for full 
organ, in which either a new arrangement of the original 
theme was predominant, or it was combined with one or 
two other subjects, according to its character." 52 

So far as concerns the other aspects of organ music the 
author of the Necrology might with justice appeal to Bach's 
existing compositions, which call into requisition the highest 
technical means in order to express the profoundest ideal 
meaning and "which he himself, as is well known, performed 
to the utmost perfection," and so confirm his statement 
that " Bach was the greatest organ-player that has as yet 
been known." 



WE must now investigate more closely the field in which 
Bach had been especially invited to labour at Cothen. At 

61 Kirnberger, Die wahren Grundsatze zum Gebrauch der Harmonic, p. 53, 
note. Berlin und Konigsberg, 1773. Mizler, p. 171. Forkel, p. 22. Forkel 
observes that the method of organ improvisation attributed to Bach is precisely 
that form of organ music which Reinken had supposed to have died out ; and we 
must assume that it was so, inasmuch as northern masters depended much upon 
the stops, used independent themes in contrast to the lines of the chorale, were 
fond of dissecting and remodelling the ideas of the fugue, and of extending and 
enlarging upon it generally. 


that time the harpsichord was the instrument nearest to the 
organ ; its soulless tone which could only acquire a cer- 
tain amount of expressiveness by the use of several key- 
boards indicated the necessity for infusing an intrinsic 
animation by means of polyphony and rich harmonic 
treatment, of a steady and thoroughly progressive melodic 
development ; and, in addition to these since it was defec- 
tive in duration of sound of increased rapidity of action. 
Henceforth he cultivated both these instruments with equal 
devotion, and endeavoured to extend the province of each in 
its style by reciprocal borrowing. Just as, on one hand, he 
adapted to the harpsichord the tied and legato mode of 
playing which the organ imperatively demands, so, on the 
other hand, he transferred to the organ so much of the florid 
execution of the clavier style as could be engrafted on its 
nature. Hence, though the organ, as was due to its supe- 
rior importance, always had the precedence, his art was 
developed quite equally on both instruments ; and, in the 
very year which saw the end of his official work as organist, 
he was required to stand a triumphant comparison with one 
of the great French clavier-masters. Hitherto no particu- 
lar attention has been directed to the clavier compositions of 
the Weimar period, with the express purpose of not con- 
fusing our general purview, which has been cast in other 
directions. We will now hastily sketch, in broad outlines, 
what has been neglected so far, and thus directly lead on to 
the consideration of the whole department of his clavier and 
other chamber music in Cothen. 

When speaking of the cantata " Nach dir, Herr, ver- 
langet mich " (Vol. I., p. 443), it was said that the fugal thema 
of the first chorus had undergone further development in a 
toccata for the clavier in F sharp minor. This theme is, no 
doubt, a favourite subject of Bach's, and recurs frequently; 
nevertheless, the identity alike in the whole and in the 
details, in the feeling and in the expression is so com- 
plete that we may regard the piece as a remodelling of the 
chorus quite as certainly as we detect in the beautiful organ 
fugue in A major the further development of the subjects of 
the overture to " Tritt auf die Glaubensbahn." That the 


chorus is not the later and the toccata the earlier work is 
proved by the greater musical completeness of the latter 
piece, and, in the second place, by its superiority to the 
three clavier toccatas previously mentioned, in D minor, G 
minor and E minor (Vol. I., p. 439 ff.), from which, indeed, it 
differs widely as to form. Like them, however, it is not 
unique in its way, for Bach, following out his old principles, 
wrought out at least two such pieces, thus giving us a right 
to regard them as constituting a new species of toccata. 68 
The essential improvement that characterises it consists in 
the introduction of a slow subject thoroughly worked out as 
an organic element, and in reducing the two fugues formerly 
included to one if not in the strict sense of the word, at 
any rate so far as the thematic material is concerned. The 
ornate portions at the beginning remain, and have also 
appropriated a certain space in the middle. The slow 
subject follows immediately on the introductory runs; it is 
worked out with great skill and feeling on the themes 

and : 

A dagio. 


A half-close prepares us for the fugue, which in one place 
runs to sixty-one bars, and in the other only to forty-seven. 
The process is only apparently different in the two works ; 
in the toccata in F sharp minor an episode of one bar serves 
for the development of a free interlude, which is, it cannot 
be denied like the second part of the clavier prelude in 
A minor somewhat digressive and fatiguing, in spite of 
several modifications of the motive. In the C minor 
toccata the composer is content with a few bars full of 
brilliant passages, and then the fugue begins again ; but 
now, by the addition of a second subject, it becomes a 
double fugue, while in the F sharp minor toccata he returns 
to the theme of the adagio, and constructs on that a quite 

81 B.-G., III., pp. 311, 322. P. S. I., C. 4, Nos. 4 and 5 ; Vol. 210, pp. 10, 20. 
See Appendix A, No. 2. 


new fugue, distinct even in time. Why he should have done 
this here is clear by a reference to his model the cantata 
for there also the theme at first appears broad in style and 
full of longing, and then, after a highly varied interlude, it 
returns agitato and with intricate elaboration. 

These two toccatas are superior to the former set, not 
merely by the greater concentration of their form, but also by 
the solidity and significance of their subject-matter ; the 
E minor toccata alone is worthy to be compared with them in 
its peculiar dreamy and longing expression. The rather tame 
interlude of the F sharp minor toccata renders it somewhat 
inferior to its fellow, although, from its prevalent imagina- 
tive character, it does not seriously disturb the flow of 
the piece. For, when the adagio comes in with its deep 
accents, after the introductory passages, which seem to 
have met fortuitously, as it were, it is as though spirits 
innumerable were let loose whispering, laughing, dancing 
up and down teasing or catching each other gliding 
calmly and smoothly on a translucent stream wreathed 
together into strange and shadowy forms ; then suddenly 
the phantoms have vanished, and the hours of existence 
are passing as in every-day life, when the former turmoil 
begins afresh only now the memory of a deep grief pierces 
through it unceasingly. 

It is otherwise with the second toccata. After a stormy 
beginning, the adagio sinks into grave meditation, from 
which the fugue springs forth with a most original repetition 
of the first phrase of the theme ; this indeed is conspicuous 
throughout the arrangement, and serves to determine its 
general character. It is a proud and handsome youth, 
swimming on the full tide of life, and never weary of the 
delightful consciousness of strength. Compare with this, 
again, the closing fugue of the E minor toccata, and marvel 
at the master's inexhaustible creative wealth. 

By the side of these two toccatas stands a three-part 
fugue in A minor, which is prefaced by a short arpeggiato 
introduction. 54 This is the longest clavier fugue that Bach 

64 B.-G., III., p. 334. P. S. I., C. 4, No. 2 ; Vol. 207, p. 36. Andreas Bach 
has a manuscript copy. 

It. D 


left complete ; it consists of a hundred and ninety-eight bars, 
3-4 time; besides this, it moves in uninterrupted semiquavers, 
so that it may be called another "moto perpetuo," and placed 
by the side of Weber's well-known movement. 

It is hard to decide which most to admire the unbridled 
and incessant flow of fancy or the firm structure which 
connects the whole; or, again, the executive skill and endur- 
ance that it presupposes. The theme, consisting of six bars, 
appears only ten times ; more than two-thirds of the com- 
position are worked out episodically, from the material it 
affords, and the nearer we get to the end, the less do we 
hear the theme in a regular form only three times, in fact, 
in the last hundred bars. The mighty rush of the initial 
portion gradually swells to a raving storm, which almost 
takes the hearer's breath away ; but, of course, without an 
accelerando, only by an increment of internal effects. When 
we now learn that Bach was accustomed to take the 
tempo of his compositions very fast, a degree of execution 
is suggested compared to which the hardest tasks of any 
other composer are as child's play. Bach owed his own 
attainment of it not merely to his iron perseverance, but 
also to the formative force of genius, which taught him to 
find the means of giving an adequate clothing to the world 
of ideas that seethed within him. 

At the beginning of the seventeenth century the musical 
world was very indifferent as to the mode of using and play- 
ing on keyed instruments. A musician who was conspicuous 
for this way of thinking, Michael Prsetorius, despised all 
who even spoke of them in real earnest, declaring that if a 
musical note were produced clearly and agreeably to the 
ear, it was a matter of indifference how this was done, even 
if it had to be played with the nose. 55 At a later date, the 
advantage indeed, the absolute necessity of a regular 
scheme of fingering was better understood ; but it was not 
till the beginning of the eighteenth century that a rational 
and methodical practice began to prevail. Up to that time 
the thumb was almost excluded from use, and the exercise 

44 Praetorius, Syntagma Musicum. 


of the little finger very lame, to say the least. The reason 
for this lay in the conspicuous difference in length between 
these and the three middle fingers, which seemed to disable 
them from equal efficiency. Still, as it was necessary to 
attend to the slurring of the notes one into another, par- 
ticularly on the organ, the middle fingers were slipped over 
or under each other ; the thumb simply hung down. It is, 
indeed, beyond a doubt that the school of Sweelinck and his 
compeers that is to say, all the northern composers, more or 
less who did so much to improve rapidity of execution, also 
did much in the regulation of the principles of fingering. 56 
At the same time, even these never used the thumb, except- 
ing under necessity ; for, when Sebastian Bach told his son 
Philipp Emanuel Bach that he, as a lad, had heard great 
men play who could only make up their minds to use this 
despised finger for very wide stretches, we cannot understand 
him as meaning any but the northern masters, and Bb'hm, 
who was so closely allied to them. To Bach himself the 
unnatural conditions of such a limitation were soon obvious ; 
he began to turn the thumb to the same account as the 
other fingers, and he must at once have perceived that the 
whole art of playing had thereby undergone a complete revo- 
lution. While the useless hanging of the thumb had resulted 
in an outstretched position for the other fingers, the use of 
it, being so much shorter, naturally necessitated a curved 
position for the others. This curving at once excluded all 
rigidity ; the fingers remained in an easy, elastic attitude, 
ready for extension or contraction at any moment, and they 
could now hit the keys rapidly and accurately as they hovered 
close over them. Thus, by diligent practice, the greatest 
possible equality of touch, strength and rapidity was ac- 
quired in both hands, and each was made quite independent 
of the other. 57 

66 There have been hitherto hardly any direct authorities that are copious 
on this subject. C. F. Becker, in his work Hausmusik in Deutschland, p. 60, 
has given a few examples of fingering for scales and passages, dating from the 
seventeenth century, and Hilgenfeldt has repeated them (p. 173) ; and a com- 
plete and very valuable MS., of 1698, with clavier pieces, many of them very 
precisely fingered, is in my possession. 

47 Mizler, p. 171. 

D 2 


Practical insight and a talent for composition combined 
to discover the surest and quickest road to these ends; every 
finger must be made equally available for every purpose; and 
Bach learned to perform trills and other embellishments with 
the third and little finger just as evenly and roundly as with 
the others. Nay, he even found it quite easy, meanwhile, 
to play the melody lower down with the same hand. The 
natural tendency of the thumb to bend towards the hollow 
of the hand made it of admirable use in passing it under the 
other fingers, or them over it. The scales those most im- 
portant of all the sequences of notes were newly fingered 
by Bach ; he established the rule that the thumb of the 
right hand must fall immediately after the two semitones of 
the scale in going up, and before them in coming down, and 
vice versa in the left hand. 58 To release the note, the tips of 
the fingers were not so much lifted as withdrawn ; this was 
necessary to give equality to the playing, because the pass- 
ing of one of the middle fingers over the little finger or the 
thumb could only be effected by drawing back the latter; 
and it also contributed to a cantabile effect, as well as to 
clearness in executing rapid passages on the clavichord. 
The result of all this was that Bach played with a scarcely 
perceptible movement of his hands; his fingers hardly 
seemed to touch the keys, and yet everything came out with 
perfect clearness, and a pearly roundness and purity. 59 His 
body, too, remained, perfectly quiescent, even during the 
most difficult pedal passages on the organ or harpsichord ; 
his pedal technique was as smooth and unforced as his 
fingering. 60 His peculiar fertility of resource enabled him to 
overcome incidental difficulties ; in keyboards placed one 
above the other he preferred short keys, so as to be more 
easily able to move from one to another, and he liked the 
upper row to be somewhat shallower than the lower, because 

* 8 Kirnberger, Grundsatze, &c., p. 4, note 2. Compare Ph. Em. Bach, p. 18. 

89 Quantz, Versuch einer Anweisung die Flote Traversiere zu spielen, third 
edition, 1789, p. 232. Forkel, p. 12. Compare Ph. Em. Bach, p. 13. See 
App. A., No. 3. 

Scheibe, p. 840. 


he could slip down imperceptibly, without any change of 
finger. 61 

It was not Bach alone, however, of the musicians of 
that period who had hit upon the more extensive use of 
the thumb ; the whole art of organ and clavier music, now 
so rapidly developing, cried out for the introduction of more 
ample methods of rendering. In France, Fra^ois Couperin 
(1668-1733), Organist of the church of St. Gervais, opened 
the way to a more rational rule of fingering by his work, 
"L'Art de Toucher le Clavecin" (Paris, 1717). Johann Gott- 
fried Walther, Bach's contemporary and, at one time, his 
colleague in Weimar- -has left us a few organ chorales, with 
marked fingering, in which the thumb is variously employed. 62 
Heinichen, who has been already mentioned, invariably 
requires the employment of all five fingers for the per- 
formance of his directions for playing from figured bass. 63 
Handel also brought the thumbs into constant play, as neces- 
sarily follows from the bent position of his fingers, as 
described by eye-witnesses, 64 by which they fell upon the 
notes almost by themselves. 

Still the new method was not methodically worked out 
either by Couperin or by Walther. In the scales Couperin 
certainly prescribes starting with the thumb on the first 
note, but not the turning under of the thumb in the progress 
upwards ; he is very ready to employ the thumb in changes 
on the same note, and also in extensions, where he freely 
allows it to strike the black keys, but hardly ever in such a way 
as that it is passed under the middle finger, or the middle 
finger over it. Two solitary cases occur among the vast 
selection of examples and test-pieces in " L'Art de Toucher le 
Clavecin," in which the method is different ; one of these is for 
the left hand, and it is remarkable that the left-hand thumb 

61 Adlung, Mus. Mech., II., p. 24. 

62 See the Konigsberg autograph. There are arrangements of " Allein Gott 
in der Hoh," " Wir glauben all an einen Gott," " Wo soil ich fliehen hin " 

68 J. D. Heinichen, Der General-Bass in der Composition, p. 522. Dresden, 
64 Chrysander, Handel, III., p. 218 ; from Burney. 


seems to have been brought into frequent use at a much 
earlier date, and here the passing over of the middle finger 
is several times indicated. The other has the following 
fingering 65 

...... . S^SS _!_*_ 

j r r_g-J f ~ 

a decisive piece of evidence as to the want of practice in the 
use of the thumb ; by turning the thumb according to 
Bach's rule that is to say, on the c" the passage runs of 
itself. In the three organ chorales Walther only twice 
crosses the middle finger over the thumb, and then in the 
left hand; in other cases only the first finger. Of Handel's 
method we know nothing exact ; however, Mattheson 
supplies this deficiency to a certain extent, since, as has 
been said already, he thought he could compete with him 
in clavier-playing, and he, in the most crucial instance 
namely, in the scales does not know the method of turning 
the thumb under, but in ascending he puts the middle finger 
over the third in the old manner, in the right hand, and, 
in descending, the middle finger over the first. 66 Philipp 
Emanuel Bach, himself one of the most remarkable, if not 
the most remarkable, of the clavier-players of the middle of 
the eighteenth century, has laid down his views on the method 
of teaching the clavier in an admirable and very thorough 
work. 67 In the lesson on fingering, section 7, he speaks of its 
extension and improvement by his father, "so that now 
everything that is possible can be easily performed"; and 
he there explains that his wish is to base his teaching on 
the progressive development of his father's method. 

It has been universally assumed that Emanuel Bach's 
method is the same as his father's, not merely in fingering, 
but in the other elements of instruction, although there is no 
statement in the book which satisfactorily proves it. How- 

65 L'Art de Toucher le Clavecin, p. 66, lowest stave. From the second book 
of Pieces de Clavecin; in the new edition by J. Brahms, p. 121 (Denkmaler der 
Tonkunst, IV.). 

66 Kleine Generalbasschule, p. 72. Hamburg, 1735. 

67 Versuch iiber die wahre Art Clavier zu Spielen. 


ever, two small pieces with the fingering marked throughout 
in Sebastian Bach's own hand have come down to us, and 
a comparison of these with the rules laid down by his son 
proves that they differ widely. Philipp Emanuel prohibits 
the passing of the middle finger over the first; Sebastian pre- 
scribes it in the fifth bar of the first piece and in bars 22 and 
23 of the second, agreeing with Couperin, as is shown by 
the example given above. Emanuel does not allow the third 
finger to cross over the little finger ; Sebastian requires it of 
the left hand in bars 38 and 39 of the second piece. The prac- 
tice of crossing under Emanuel limits to the thumb ; Sebastian 
makes the little finger pass under the third in bars 34 and 35 of 
the same piece. Of the crossing of the little finger over the 
thumb, which Emanuel also forbids, there is, as it happens, 
no example in Sebastian's little pieces, but we find it in one 
of Walther's chorales. Yet more : although Sebastian's rule 
for using the thumb after the semitone intervals of the scale 
is most distinctly authenticated, 68 he himself has not observed 
it at the beginning of the first of these pieces, but has fingered 
it in the old manner, and though in the third bar the left hand 
advances, it is true, by a turn over the thumb it is only 
with the first finger, in the old fashion. Thus, though his 
fingering is distinguished from that of his predecessors and 
contemporaries by the regular use of the thumb, it differs 
from his son's method by certain peculiarities, some of which 
are retained from the older method of playing, while others 
were naturally derived from it; the origin of Sebastian 
Bach's method is thus tolerably clear. It took into due con- 
sideration all the combinations which the use of the thumb 
now rendered possible, but without abandoning the technical 
accomplishment which the earlier method had afforded ; 
still, we may be permitted to suppose that Bach, who 
always followed the path pointed out by Nature, avoided, as 
far as possible, passing a smaller finger over a larger: for 
instance, the first or the third over the middle finger. 

This combination of methods gave him such an unlimited 

88 By Mizler, as well as by Kirnberger; he also was a pupil of Bach's, and in 
the Mus. Bib., II., p. 115, he thus fingers certain scale passages. 


command of means that it is easy to understand how it was 
that difficulties had ceased to exist for him. And, as though 
he had been destined in every respect to stand alone and 
at the summit of his art, he remained the only master 
of clavier-playing who acquired such stupendous technical 
facility. All who came before him, and all who succeeded 
him, worked with a much smaller supply of means ; he stood 
on an eminence commanding two realms, and ruled that 
which lay before him as well as that he had left behind. 
His son even, who represents the actual starting-point of 
modern clavier-playing, greatly simplified his father's rules 
of fingering. He limited the crossing of the longest fingers 
to that of the middle finger over the third, and cultivated a 
more extensive use of the thumb. He did not, indeed, 
require such a wealth of resource for his far easier and 
more homophonic style of composition ; and in art all that 
is superfluous is faulty. Then, with the introduction of the 
modern pianoforte, the door was finally closed on the old 
method of fingering, because the mechanism of hammers 
demands an elastic tap on the key from above, and prohibits 
the oblique blow which is given by crossing the middle 
fingers. Thus, even in these days, when we boast of a 
sovereign command of all the resources of clavier technique, 
Sebastian Bach's own mode of playing can only be restored 
to the extent to which it was carried out by his son, and 
is even now indispensable to enable us to perform Bach's 
compositions. It would be lost to us as a whole, even if we 
could be conversant with all its details ; but the abnormal 
difficulty of his compositions is in great part grounded on 
this ; for all that modern skill has gained on one side it has 
necessarily lost on another, from the very nature of the 
instrument. For this reason it cannot be denied that the 
modern technique is, after all, not superior to Bach's, or 
at any rate that he overcame many difficulties far more 
easily. What holds good for the clavier does so still more 
for the organ; indeed, Bach stamped the character of the 
organ on the clavier, without, however, detracting from its 
intrinsic value. But here, where there were no hindrances 
arising from the construction of the instrument, a further 


development of technique on the lines he had laid down 
would not be impossible ; and, so soon as this instrument 
attained somewhat more importance in our artistic life, the 
attempt was immediately made. 

The utmost improvement of finger practice was indis- 
pensable to Bach, if for this reason only : that he was 
accustomed to play on claviers of equal temperament, and 
could therefore avail himself indifferently of all the twenty- 
four keys. The idea of establishing the equal temperament 
by a regular distribution of the ditonic comma that is to 
say, by an adjustment of the difference resulting from 
twelve fifths, as compared with the twelve degrees included 
in the scale of an octave had been already thought of at the 
beginning of the seventeenth century, and soon found universal 
acceptance. Many of the musicians already so frequently 
mentioned had made theoretical use of it as Andreas 
Werkmeister (1644-1706) and Johann Georg Neidhardt 
(died 1740) still the discovery can hardly have led to any 
practical application, since the differences of pitch were so 
minute as to be finally distinguishable by the ear alone. 
The methods of tempering which were evolved from the 
theory were at first singular enough. About the year 1739, 
the three following general rules still obtained : (i) The 
octave, the minor sixth and third must be absolutely pure ; 
(2) the major sixth and the fourth were to be somewhat 
enlarged ; (3) the fifth and major third were to be somewhat 
diminished. 69 How far this may have sounded well or ill 
may be approximately estimated when we remember that 
the determination of only the octave, fourth and fifth has 
any foundation in the nature of things ; all the intervals 
which have a more complicated relation to the keynote, like 
the major and minor sixths and the minor third, will bear, 
as is well known, greater deviations from their pure relation ; 
and how the major thirds can have been diminished is quite 
inconceivable, since the sum of three major thirds, even 
when purely tuned, does not equal an octave, which is what 
equal temperament demands. 

88 Mattheson, Vollkommener Capellmeister, p. 55. 


It is very satisfactory to know that in this, too, Bach was 
in advance of his time, and had already made himself 
master of the method of tuning which is now universally 
followed. It is expressly stated that he took all the major 
thirds a little sharp that is to say, slightly augmented 
which is indispensable for the equalisation of the diesis. 70 
But as it is impossible that he should have tuned 
from nothing but major thirds, he must have proceeded 
as we still do at the present day that is to say, by 
four successive fifths, each slightly flattened, so that 
the last note forms a major third with the key-note, 
and, with the aid of the first fifth, a common chord on it. 
Of the various artifices which are used to facilitate the 
application of this method, he must have known, at any 
rate, that which consists in testing the deviation of the fifth 
by striking it, together with its octave, the fourth below the 
key-note, and taking the fifth up again from thence. 71 That 
he evolved all this by his own study and reflection, and not 
from reading theoretical treatises, would be very certain, 
even if we had not the testimony of his contemporaries; 72 
and he carried out his method with such rapidity and cer- 
tainty that it never took him more than a quarter of an 
hour to tune a harpsichord or a clavichord. 73 

70 F. W. Marpurg, Versuch iiber die Musikalische Temperatur, p. 213. 
Berlin, 1776. " Herr Kirnberger himself has often told me and others how, 
during the time when he enjoyed the instruction of the celebrated Job. Sebastian 
Bach, he would intrust to him the tuning of his clavier, and expressly enjoined 
him to make all the major thirds sharp." 

71 Emanuel Bach speaks of this, as well as of the tuning of the fifth downwards 
and the testing of the third, in section 14 of the introduction to the Versuch iiber 
die wahre Art, &c. ; and he could scarcely have had any inclination to deviate 
from his father's practice in the matter of temperament. 

74 Mattheson was a sworn enemy to certain folks who insisted on making 
music a branch of mathematical science, and in this he was one with Bach. In 
Mizler's autobiography in the Ehrenpforte he adds, on p. 231, a propos to 
Mizler's intercourse with Bach, this observation: "Bach very certainly would 
no more have brought forward this mathematical basis of composition than the 
present writer [Mattheson] ; that I will warrant." And what he says as to 
composition naturally holds good for the other branches of art: "Our late 
friend Bach never entered into deep theoretical considerations about music, and 
was all the more efficient in performance." Necrology, p. 173. 

w Forkel, p. 17. 


We soon shall see the splendid use in creative work which 
he made of the newly opened realm of tone, now for the 
first time accessible. But he did not allow himself to be led 
away into excursive modulations ; this was quite opposed to 
his style. It was only under special circumstances that he 
now and then showed how keenly alive his ear was to the 
inner connection of keys, and how admirably he could avail 
himself of enharmonic transitions when he chose. An in- 
stance occurs in the prelude, previously mentioned, to the 
Hamburg fugue in G minor ; another in the Chromatic 
Fantasia, as it is called, to which we shall return later. 

I cannot decide, in view of the slender evidence, whether 
a piece called "Das kleine harmonische Labyrinth" 
"The Little Labyrinth of Harmony" is by Bach or not; 
it consists of an entrance full of enharmonic wandering, 
leading up, as to a central goal, to a little fugue, which is 
worked out, and then has its exit through similar mazy 
paths, returning to daylight in the key of C major. It was 
Heinichen Prince Leopold's companion in Italy who first 
clearly displayed, and practically applied, the sequence and 
connection of the twenty-four keys. We know of no similar 
attempt from Bach's hand ; the soaring independence of his 
genius was averse to every merely mechanical device. 74 

We have designated the tone of the harpsichord as soulless, 
and, so far, similar to that of the organ. At the same time 
it cannot have remained unnoticed by a delicate ear that it 
responded more kindly under the hands of one player than 
those of another ; hence it is not altogether unreasonable to 
speak of a subjective mode of treatment, even of the harp- 
sichord. The possibility of such a treatment depends partly 
on the indefinable peculiarities of touch, and then on the 
yet more indescribable art of calling forth in the hearer 
those responsive emotions which are indispensable to the 
appreciation of the artistic idea ; a power which clavier 
music demands with peculiar insistence. We have reason 

74 Heinichen (Gen. Bass, p. 837, Dresden 1728); and even before this in the 
title work published in 1711. The test piece, pp. 885-895, is wrongly assigned 
to Bach in a MS. in the Royal Library at Berlin (press-mark p. 295). The 
"kleine harmonische Labyrinth" is also to be found there. 


to suppose that Bach must have possessed this power. 
That he had a peculiar charm of touch is a matter 
of course, with his new modes of playing ; and that his 
playing, even on the harpsichord, which he always furnished 
with quills himself, must have been, in a certain way, in- 
spired. His son Philipp Emanuel points out that the only 
way to attain this is the diligent cultivation of the clavi- 
chord, 75 and this was precisely Sebastian's favourite instru- 
ment. Even though it had not much strength, the tone was 
wonderfully capable of light and shade, and comparatively 
persistent. It was possible to play cantabile on it, and this 
cantabile style was regarded by Bach as the foundation of all 
clavier-playing. In view of these indisputable facts, the 
opinion we find expressed here and there, that, in the perfor- 
mances of his clavier pieces, Bach gave no light and shade of 
expression, and that the introduction of such a rendering 
is a presumptuous modern innovation, must fall to the 
ground as an unfounded hypothesis. 

Nowhere can we see more strikingly than here how a 
great genius can contain within itself the aim and end of a 
long process of historical development, and foresee it across 
the lapse even of centuries. The ideal instrument which 
floated in the mind of Bach for the performance of his 
Inventions and Sinfonias, of his suites and clavier fugues, was 
not altogether the clavichord ; the ideas brought down by 
him from the sublime heights of the organ were too pon- 
derous, and weighed too heavily on its delicate frame. But 
it was not the organ either. From the organ, no doubt, 
emanated that craving for more abundant alternations of 
feeling which sought its satisfaction in chamber-music, just 
as the endeavour after definition of feeling gave rise to the 
main idea of the church cantata as proceeding from the 
organ chorale. Its solemn, calm and rapt solitude blos- 
somed out into blooming beauty and the living speech of 
man. The harpsichord could not here satisfy him ; no 

76 Ph. Em. Bach, op. cit., section 17 : " By constant playing on the harpsi- 
chord we get into the way of playing with one sort of tone, and the different 
varieties of tone which can be brought out even by an ordinarily good clavichord- 
player are entirely lost." 


instrument but one which should combine the volume of 
tone of the organ with the expressive quality of the clavi- 
chord, in due proportion, could be capable of reproducing 
the image which dwelt in the master's imagination when he 
composed for the clavier. Every one sees at once that the 
modern pianoforte is in fact just such an instrument. 
Nothing can be more perverse than to wish to have the old 
clavichord restored in order to play Bach's clavier pieces 
or even the harpsichord, which, indeed, was of the very 
smallest importance in Bach's musical practice ; this might 
do for Kuhnau, for Couperin, and Marchand ; Bach's 
grander creations demand a flowing robe of sound, an in- 
spired mien and expressive motions. 

If, in recent times, more and more attention has been 
paid to Bach's clavier works, one reason for this, among 
others, and by no means the least, is that we have felt that 
at last the means were not altogether inadequate to the pur- 
pose. Of course this is not said with reference to executive 
embellishment ; but, indeed, the danger in this direction is 
not imminent ; the fabric of these compositions is so com- 
pact, the progression of the parts so melodious throughout, 
that any arbitrary insertion of heterogeneous details is all 
but impossible, after a little studious attention to their 
organic structure. Where a phrase is intended to be con- 
spicuous, the composer has taken care that it shall become 
so of itself. The echo-like contrasts of forte and. piano, which 
are indicated by the character of the harpsichord, with its 
several keyboards, are almost always marked, and where 
they are not they are easily recognisable they invariably 
refer each to a complete phrase. Whatever more than this 
depends on the performer will infallibly be clear to him 
when once he has accustomed himself to follow, in his own 
mind, the vocal phrasing, so to speak, of the separate parts, 
and their symphonic combined effect. He will then breathe 
life into the emotions they embody, in due proportion as they 
swell and fall, and give more or less fulness of tone in sym- 
pathy with their agreement or antagonism to the funda- 
mental harmony at the moment. Then will he become 
aware of that melody which pervades the inner parts of the 


harmonic progression of every piece by Bach. He will ride 
on its wings, whether it roars with the force of a storm, or, 
again, whispers like the breath of May intangible, invisible, 
and yet all-pervading. Bach's clavier compositions are a 
heritage into which it has been left to this generation to 
enter in the fullest extent an inestimable legacy to a 
period when the spring of musical inspiration no longer 
flows with its former abundance an immovable rock in the 
midst of the troubled waters of passionate aberrations, and 
a solemn warning to all who still have ears to hear never to 
neglect the dignity of art. 

The master lived to see the early youth of the pianoforte, 
and aided it by severe criticism. Gottfried Silbermann, of 
Freiburg, somewhere between 1740 and 1750 constructed two 
claviers with hammer action, probably after the invention 
of Cristofori, the Florentine. Bach played on one of these, 
praised the tone highly, and found fault only with the heavy 
touch and the feebleness of the upper notes. Deeply as 
Silbermann felt this criticism, he nevertheless was willing to 
bow to it ; he worked for years at the improvement of his 
hammer action, and at last earned Bach's unqualified 
praise. 76 It is not likely that Bach ever became himself the 
possessor of such an instrument, for, if he had, his pupil 
Agricola, through whom we hear of the affair, would have 
mentioned it. And the reason is very clear : the hammer 
mechanism did not accommodate itself readily enough to all 
the appliances of Bach's method of fingering. Still, his 
satisfaction at Silbermann's instrument shows very clearly 
whither his clavier music tended. 

To remedy at least one main defect in the harpsichord 
namely, its brief resonance in the year 1740 (or thereabout) 
he devised a " Lauten-clavicymbel " (Lute -harpsichord), 
which was constructed by the organ-builder Zacharias 
Hildebrand, under his direction ; the greater duration of 
tone was produced by gut strings, of which it had two to 
each note, and these were supplemented by a set of metal 
strings giving a four-foot tone. When the ringing tone of 

w Adlung, Mus. Mech., II., p. 139. 


these was checked by a damper of cloth the instrument 
sounded much like a real lute, while without this it had 
more of the gloomy character of the theorbo. In size it was 
shorter than the ordinary harpsichord. 77 The thorough 
comprehension of the construction of instruments which 
Bach here displays, and the experience he had already 
proved in the department of organ-building, together with 
his skill in tuning and his perfection of ingenuity in 
fingering, are the outcome of his technical talent. His 
superb nature stands firm on the true foundations of 
all art an inexhaustible depth of imagination; while his 
thorough technical knowledge includes even the humblest 
mechanical means of casting the precious material in the 
noblest forms. We need only remember the talents of 
Joh. Michael and Joh. Nikolaus Bach respectively to verify 
once more the statement that in Sebastian all the capacity 
of his family converged. 78 An admirable musical connois- 
seur of the last century exclaims that " the immortal Joh. 
Seb. Bach combined all the great and different talents of 
a hundred other musicians." 79 

Nor was it only that all the ways and means of artistic 
production and utterance were at his command ; he was 
besides a distinguished teacher of music. Of all the 
great German composers, Bach is the only one round 
whom are grouped any great number of disciples men, too, 
who do not owe their chief glory to their master. Irrespec- 
tive of his sons, Ziegler, Agricola, Altnikol, Ernst Bach, 
Homilius, Kirnberger, Goldberg, Miithel, Kittel, Transchel, 
Vogler and, above all, Joh. Ludwig Krebs were musicians of 
undoubted merit, and some of them of great eminence. 
Though no one of them opened out new paths in composi- 
tion, the reason of this lay partly in the isolated supremacy 

" Adlung, Mus. Mech., II., p. 139. 

78 Bitter, in his book on J. Seb. Bach, I. (p. 141), states that the composer 
constructed a musical clock for the castle at Cothen, which still exists in the 
Castle of Nienburg, on the Saale. Herr Albert, the minister there, was good 
enough to examine this clock at my request ; it bears on a disc in the interior 
the words "jfohann Zacharias Fischer Fecit, a. Halle." 

79 Marpurg, Loc. Cit., p. 234. 


of their master himself ; it was hard to make any approach 
to that, and creative power is a thing that can neither be 
imparted nor acquired. The strong point of Bach's pupils 
lay in their executive art, to which industry and good 
guidance are the chief aids. That Bach could so well 
cultivate these is due in the first place to the moral worth 
of his character, which prompted him to place his own 
acquirements with self-denying liberality at the service of 
his fellow-men. " Dem hochsten Gott allein zu Ehren, 
Dem Nachsten draus sich zu belehren," was what he wrote 
(see Vol. I., p. 598) on the title-page of the precious "Little 
Organ Book," and he acted up to his motto. It both com- 
mands our reverence and quickens our heart to see this 
man, whose Titanic imagination could at one moment lift 
its hand to grasp a sublime ideal, sitting down, the next 
hour, among his scholars, the sons of organists and cantors 
of the most modest pretensions, explaining patiently the 
mechanical use of the fingers, generously helping a blunderer 
by writing out a special exercise, and urging them on to 
higher aims with all the earnestness of a teacher, by per- 
forming the examples he had set them. Thus he began in 
Miihlhausen, and thus he continued forty years later, when 
declining into old age. The native Bach spirit, the great 
German ideal, penetrated him throughout in all its depth 
and modesty. 

Besides this, even his teaching promoted his own pro- 
gress. No doubt one reason why most of the great 
masters have proved more or less unfitted for teaching 
is to be sought in their lack of patience in explaining clearly 
to others the things they have drunk in, as it were, instinc- 
tively; but there is, more certainly, another namely, that 
they are all merely carrying forward and completing a 
process already begun, and that therefore they ,fail in 
that living experience which gives an interest even in the 
simplest elements. In the province of the organ this was 
Bach's attitude also. But in clavier music he had not 
only entered into the inheritance of his predecessors; he had 
brought to it so much from the stock of organ music that it 
acquired a perfectly new aspect, and in the same way he 


had so completely transformed its vehicle of expression 
namely, the technique of fingering by his intelligent and 
ingenious novelty of method that it was radically different. 
Here he felt himself the creator of the art from its most 
elementary principles; here he had tried and tested the best 
methods of training by his own indefatigable labours ; and 
from the nature of things that method of instruction took its 
rise in and from the clavier. It was one more instance of 
the truth long since uttered by Socrates: that every one can 
be eloquent on a subject he understands. And how could 
this eloquence fail of convincing effect, when his pupils saw 
to what results Bach's methods had brought him ? how in 
him the most exact knowledge and the utmost executive 
power were combined ? Then a third aspect of his gift for 
teaching lay in this : that he could, when needful, interrupt 
himself, set aside the clear logic of the intellect in favour of 
the flight of genius, and by a perfect revelation of his own 
powers show his pupils the goal which, under his guidance, 
they had begun to approach. Thus he refreshed and 
invigorated their courage ; and though on one hand he 
required the severest application, he at the same time had 
hours in store for them which, by their own admission, were 
among the happiest in their lives. 80 

We have some information, too, as to his course of 
instruction. In the first instance he only gave exercises 
in touch, in fingering and in the equal and independent 
action of every finger of both hands. To this he kept 
the pupil for at least a month, but would sweeten the 
bitter dose by giving him graceful little pieces, in each 
of which some special technical difficulty was dealt with. 
Even embellishments and maniers, as they were called, 
had to be practised persistently in both hands from 
the very first. When a certain proficiency had been 
attained in these elements he went on at once to the 
root of the matter in difficult compositions, by preference 
in his own. Before the pupil began to study one, he played 
it to him, thus rousing his zeal and a desire not to fail of a 

80 So says Heinrich Gerbei', Lexicon, I., col. 492. 


happy result. 81 He set the highest value on industry, and 
set himself up as an example to them in this alone. " I 
have to be diligent," he would say, " and any one who is- 
equally so will get on equally well." He never seemed to 
be aware of his wonderful gifts. 

A happy circumstance has also enabled us to overhear, as 
it were, a whole practical course of teaching by Bach, so far 
at least as it is worked out by purely mechanical exercises 
rounded off into complete musical pieces. When his eldest 
son was nine years old, finding he had great musical gifts, 
his father began to cultivate them. On January 22, 1720, 
he projected the " Clavier-Buchlein " (Little Clavier-Book) for 
Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, 82 in which, beginning with the 
simplest elements, he introduced, by degrees, compositions 
of progressive difficulty, and here and there even let the boy 
himself write some. On the first page the keys and the 
principal ornaments are explained. 83 Then follows the little 
piece before mentioned as having the fingering marked. It 
is called Applicatio, and headed with the pious words, In 
nomine Jesu. Here scale passages and ornaments are com- 
bined with a special view (as is shown in bars 2, 6 and 8) 
to the practice of the shake with the third and little fingers 
of the right hand. The second piece (a preamble of eighteen 
bars in C major) is for the practice of embellishments in the 
left hand, with a perfectly equal semiquaver movement for 
the right in precise alternation with the left. 84 Then comes 
and this is highly significant in its bearing on Bach's 
attitude towards clavier music the three-part chorale 
" Wer nur den lieben Gott lasst walten," lavishly embel- 
lished in both hands. It is, in an improved form, the same 
subject as he had some years previously arranged for church 
purposes by the addition of a prelude, interlude and postlude. 85 
Since that time he had given up the use of such elaborate 

si My late father had a happy way of putting his pupils to the proof. With 
him his scholars had to go at once to his by no means easy pieces." Ph. Em. 
Bach, I., p. 10. Forkel, pp. 38 and 45. 

82 See ante, Vol. I., note 21, p. 12. The size is a small oblong quarto. 

83 The little diagram arranged for this purpose is to be found, B.-G. III., p. 14. 
w P. S. I., C. 9, No. 16, I. (Vol. 200, p. 3). 

86 See ante, Vol. I., p. 313, note 133. 


accompaniments to congregational singing, and had arrived 
at the conclusion that they were only serviceable for purposes 
of practice on the clavier; and to perform this smoothly and 
roundly demands a skill far beyond that of a beginner. 

The fourth lesson consists of a somewhat longer prelude 
in D minor, a calm movement in quavers closing with a 
cadence in semiquavers for both hands alternately. 86 Bars 
9 and 13 each have a slurred passage lasting into the next 
bar. But as a true legato could only be produced on the 
clavichord by increased pressure, involving added intensity 
of tone, the slur indicates at the same time a shading in the 
force of tone ; this is all the clearer because it does not cover 
a complete phrase, but is lost in the following bar ; thus the 
passage began forte, then diminuendo, down to piano a 
practical hint as to Bach's attention to expressive execution. 

The fifth place is occupied by another three-part chorale, 
"Jesu meine Freude," coloured and ornamented like the 
former one ; but it is not written out to the end. 87 

Two easy allemandes follow as a pleasing change, both in 
G minor ; but the second of these is also only a fragment. 
Then follow three preludes, in F major and G minor this 
one has the fingering marked and F major again. 88 The 
two first again aim at rapidity, and a smooth execution of 
semiquavers and quavers, to which it is evident that Bach 
gave much attention ; but the third is already of that cate- 
gory of more difficult pieces to which the pupil was ere long 
introduced. The polyphony which governs all the parts, and 
which is so essentially Bach's, combined as it is with an 
equally characteristic variety in the musical ideas, presup- 
poses a by no means contemptible independence and rapidity 
of finger. The polyphony, however, is restricted to three 
parts, and these are used at first with caution : but, in spite 
of this, they demand smooth handling and some stretching 
and grasping power in the hands. 

86 P. S. I., C. 9, No. 16, V. (Vol. 200, p. 7). 

87 The fragment occurs in P. S. V., C. 5 (Vol 244), after the variants. 

88 P. S. I., C. 9, No. 16, VIII., XL, IX. (Vol. 200, pp. 9, ro, n). More exactly 
the two first are called preambles; however, there is no perceptible difference 
between this and a prelude. 

E a 


Corresponding to the three preludes are an equal number 
of minuets in G major, G minor, G major 89 in which the 
study of polyphonic treatment is carried farther ; in the 
third, too, a rhythmical figure is introduced, of the greatest 
utility in practising clearness of touch. 

This is, as it were, a stage reached ; the next exercise 
represents a higher level of study. It consists of eleven pre- 
ludes, which recur later in a more or less altered shape in 
the Wohltemperirte Clavier. The order in which they stand 
shows that their purpose was the attainment, in due sequence, 
first, of increased rapidity, and then of a sustained and equal 
execution, going on to a cantabile and polyphonic style of 
playing. The keys follow thus: C major, C minor, D minor, 
D major, E minor (this is for left-hand practice only), then E 
major, F major, C sharp major, C sharp minor, E sharp minor, 
F minor. The preludes are not all finished to the end, but we 
shall of course consider them again with reference to the 
relation they bear to the pieces collectively of the Wohltem- 
perirte Clavier, as well as with regard to their intrinsic merit. 
After them we come, for the first time, on a composition not 
by Bach an allemande in C major, by J. C. Richter. 90 The 
courante which follows it may be by the same composer. 

Then, among a number of trifles and fragments, we may 
distinguish a prelude in D major and a three-part fugue in 
C major. 91 In the fugue, among other technical aims, it is 
easy to perceive a special adaptation to the exercise of the 
third and little fingers of the right hand ; however, for this 
prelude there is a general demand on the true Bach mode 
of playing. What had before been an end is now merely 
a means ; the student is one step nearer to perfection. 
This is confirmed by the rest of the little work, which is 
filled almost exclusively by the Inventionen und Sinfonien, 
the first of the three great master-works for the clavier 
which owe their existence to the Cb'then period. There 

89 P. S. I., C. 13, No. ii, I., II., III. (Vol. 216, pp. 30 and 31). 

90 Probably the same who was afterwards Court Organist in Dresden, Joh. 
Christoph Richter. See Gerber, N. L. III., col. 855. Nothing further is known 
as to any acquaintance between him and Bach. 

P. S. I., C. 9, No. 16, IV., and No. 9 (Vol. 200, pp. 6 and 24). 


remain only two little suites, of which one in three parts 
(A major) is not, it is true, in Sebastian Bach's hand- 
writing ; it may nevertheless be of his composition ; the 
other, in four parts (G minor), is by G. H. Stolzel, Capell- 
meister of Gotha. Bach amused himself by adding to 
its minuet a trio, which is as delightful as it is learned. 92 
All the original compositions here mentioned not only per- 
fectly fulfil their instructive purpose, but are masterly pro- 
ductions when viewed as works of art a varied and fragrant 
wreath, in which roses, lilies and perfumed stocks have 
their place, as well as wilder growths each in their degree, 
but each with its own peculiar charm. The forms are at 
first quite simple, but with the advance of technical acquire- 
ment they become gradually broader till the fugue is reached. 
We are not now speaking of the peculiar structure of the 
Inventionen und Sinfonien ; that of the latter approaches 
very nearly to the four-part construction of the fine prelude 
in D major. 

There are still many more pieces written by Bach 
especially for technical practice, though most of them were 
no doubt dispersed and lost among his pupils. Very admirable 
is a little prelude in C minor, which runs whispering on in 
harp-like tones from one set of harmonies to another, and 
yet lets the mystical romanticism of Bach's genius pierce 
through it all. 93 We find even fugues, both with and with- 
out preludes, which, like the former one, probably served as 
pieces for testing the progress of the pupil, three-part fugues 
of really enjoyable perfection as to form and purport, and 
conceived with that concentration of structure which does 
not allow of a single superfluous note, nor say a word too 
much the distinguishing mark, in short, of all the fugues 
written at Cb'then or later. The preludes are as artistic as 
they are profound, particularly that grave and melancholy 
one in D minor, in which we might fancy we had found an 

w P. S. I., C. 9, No. 16, X. (Vol. 200, p. 81). 

98 P. S. I., C. 9, No. 16, III. (Vol. 200, p. 4). Also for others, see II., VI., 
VII. and XII. 


organ piece, if Bach had not with his own hand added to it a 
fugue unmistakably written for the clavier. 94 

Our study of Bach's qualities of technique and as a teacher 
has led us back again to his work as a composer. His 
nature is a grand homogeneous whole ; all his various 
characteristics reacted on each other interpenetrated each 
other to compose an indivisible unity. Just as every exer- 
cise he wrote is a true work of art, so, on the other hand, 
every independent composition is full of technical instruc- 
tion. He never wrote a clavier piece which did not serve as 
a healthy gymnastic for the fingers ; but, on the other hand, 
he never composed anything which fulfilled no other end 
than that of an exercise. It is precisely in one of his pro- 
foundest masterpieces that he addresses himself directly to 
" the young who desire to learn." Their advancement and 
culture in the comprehension of art were to him objects of 
the warmest interest, and inspired him to creative effort. 
The way in which, by patient waiting and diligence, he 
gradually educated his pupils to be his public is a brilliant 
example for every artist who cherishes the natural desire to 
make a way for his ideas. But he was far from all affectation 
from all delight in unintelligent admiration. Instru- 
mental music, more than any other art, demands a certain 
understanding, and claims a higher degree of musical cul- 
ture in those who would deserve her favours ; her votaries 
must be specially trained in her service, or she turns her 
blessings to a curse a mere futile and demoralising means 
of luxury. This Bach knew very well ; even his zeal as a 
teacher was at bottom merely an emanation from that true 
art which gives dignity to humanity, and makes no dis- 
tinction between the good and the beautiful. 

94 Four fugues with two preludes are published in P. S. I., C. g, Nos. 4, 5, 8 
(Vol. 200, ii, Vol. 212, p. 3). See Griepenkerl's preface to the volume. In it 
there are also two other fugues, in D minor and A minor, Nos. 12 and 6 (Vol. 212, 
p. 5 ; Vol. 200, p. 33), which, however, do not fit with the two other preludes. No 
data as their origin and purpose are forthcoming, but their internal character 
indicates beyond a doubt that they were not written later than the others. 
They are by no means inferior: the A minor fugue has a strongly marked 
organ type. 


When, at the beginning of 1723, he revised the Inven- 
tionen und Sinfonien, and wrought them into the form of an 
independent volume, he gave it the following title : " An 
honest guide by which the lovers of the clavier, but particu- 
larly those who desire to learn, are shown a plain way, not 
only (firstly) to learn to play neatly in two parts, but also, 
in further progress (secondly), to play correctly and well 
in three obbligato parts; and, at the same time, not only 
to acquire good ideas, but also to work them out them- 
selves, and, finally, to acquire a cantabile style of playing, 
and, at the same time, to gain a strong predilection for 
and foretaste of composition." 95 Here, once more, we have 
the whole confession of faith of the musical instructor: " A 
Guide " : here the instructional purpose is most clearly indi- 
cated " an honest guide" for true art can be served by no 
hollow mockery. " The lovers of the clavier" that is, the 
clavichord, the foundation of all Bach's teaching, on which 
alone a cantabile or flowing and expressive mode of execution 
is indeed possible "particularly those who desire to learn": 
the persevering youth, whose sympathetic intelligence 
must be won, for the future is theirs. Pieces, first in two 
and then in three parts obbligato, are given, and the develop- 
ment of polyphonic playing is the highest goal ; in these, 
again, purity, accuracy and grace are required. The musi- 
cal idea contained in the piece was intended to ripen the 
imagination of the learner and encourage him to produce 
both improvised pieces (inventiones) and more artistic works, 
duly arranged and worked out (composition}. Finally, in the 
carrying out the ideas, he was to study the organism of a 
grand composition. 

How far it was from Bach's views that a clavier pupil 
need only be trained in mere finger-work in riding the 

6 " Auffrichtige Anleitung, Wormit denen Liebhabern des Clavires, besonders 
aber denen Lehrbegierigen, eine deutliche Art gezeiget wird, nicht alleine (i) 
mit 2 Stimmen reine spielen zu lernen, sondern auch bey weiteren progressen 
(2) mit dreyen obligaten Partien richtig und wohl zu verfahren, anbey auch 
zugleich gute inventiones nicht alleine zu bekommen, sondern auch selbige wohl 
durchzufiihren, am allermeisten aber eine cantnble Art im Spielen zu erlangen, 
und darneben einen starcken Vorschmack von der Composition zu uberkommen." 
B.-G., III., Preface. 


clavier, as he used to call it how thoroughly, on the con- 
trary, he guided the player at the same time through the 
intricacies of construction and the feeling of the piece he 
was playing, is here made veiy plain ; nay, that he knew, 
too, how to incite him to living and original production by 
arousing his own formative faculty. The plan of the pro- 
gramme seems at first sight somewhat confused ; still it is 
not very difficult to disentangle the different ideas that seem 
to cross each other. He wished, in the first place, to pro- 
duce an exercise-book for the clavier-player ; but, with the 
mechanical practice, he proposed also to cultivate the 
pupil's artistic powers generally, both on the side of im- 
promptu invention which was so essential for the use 
of the figured bass, then thought very important and 
on that of serious composition. Having formerly been a 
first-class scholar in St. Michael's School, at Liineburg, he 
had not so far forgotten the terminology of rhetoric as 
not to know that collocatio (order) and elocutio (expression) 
are indispensable to inventio (invention) ; and thus, imme- 
diately after his observations on good inventions, we find 
order or arrangement discussed, and a cantabile handling; 
otherwise, certain other sections might have seemed more 
nearly connected with it. The ancient rules of rhetoric 
come in again in another place, when he teaches that in 
two-part pieces purity of execution is essential, but in 
three-part pieces correct and finished playing not meaning, 
of course, that purity is less requisite in three parts, or 
correctness and finish in two. It is perfectly clear that 
these words stand for the emendatum (correct), perspicuum 
(pure i.e., clean and neat) and ornatum (finished i.e., win- 
ning or graceful) of the old rhetoricians, the three chief 
requisites of a good image or statement. 96 

It is extremely interesting to observe that, in spite of his 
musical occupations at Luneburg, Bach cannot have been a 

96 Compare Mattheson, Grosse General-Bass Schule, p. 8 (Hamburg, 1731). 
" For there were then already wise folks who were not satisfied that the figured 
bass should be carried out correctly (recht)- that is to say, without mistakes but 
demanded that it should also be good thtt is, artistic and elegant. Hence it 
is not without reason that we contrast right (or correct) and good (or beautiful)." 


very bad Latin scholar, since twenty years after he still 
had a present memory of these matters, and could apply his 
knowledge so aptly and correctly. But what is more import- 
ant still is the direct parallel he institutes between music and 
human speech. This he could not possibly have done if he 
had not felt that the art of music was a perfectly evolved 
language of emotion that the progression of each part in 
his polyphonic pieces was like the utterance of a distinct per- 
sonage that the composer was indeed in some sort a dra- 
matic poet. It would seem that he often applied this com- 
parison himself in order to disclose to his pupils the inner life 
and purport of his music. 97 What a performance it must have 
been that was inspired by this idea needs to be no further 
enlarged upon. And it is now quite clear what the associa- 
tion of ideas must have been that led him to call the two- 
part pieces inventions, when the name preamble, which he had 
applied to them in Friedemann's book, did not satisfy him. 
Indeed, the true prelude style is certainly not recognisable 
in these strict and simple compositions, with the exception, 
perhaps, of two of them ; still the name inventions is not 
particularly happy either ; the pieces are too far from mere 
inventions, too carefully worked out, and, in contrast with the 
sinfonias which follow them (this was the new name so 
happily bestowed on what had been first called "fantasias," 
and are now more generally known as " inventions in three 
parts "), can at most be accepted as pictures more lightly 
projected and more directly invented. 98 

If we now consider this work which more than any other 
displays an instructive aim from the side of its artistic 

97 Since Forkel, p. 24, says quite the same thing as we have here derived 
from our analysis of Bach's words, I have no doubt that his statement is founded 
on a direct communication from Friedemann or Ph. Em. Bach. Birnbaum 
also states it distinctly in Scheibe, Critischer Musikus, p. 997. 

98 It is not probable that Bach was the first to use the name " invention " for 
a piece of music. See App. A, No. 7. In Breitkopf's list for Easter, 1763, wo 
find, on page 73: " Bach, Joh. Seb., Capellm. und Musik-Director zu Leipzig, 
XXII. Inventiones vors Clavier: Leipzig, fol. a, i thl., 12 gr." This established 
the interesting fact that a printed edition of the Inventionen existed FO early as 
1763. Only the number is puzzling; it is perhaps a misprint for XXX., which 
would include the sinfonias. 


value, it is a striking illustration of the fact that Bach's 
fertility and inspiration grew in direct proportion as he more 
distinctly formulated his educational purpose. In extent 
alone is it inferior to the iwo parts of the Wohltemperirte 
Clavier and the Kunst der Fuge, in its more modest dimen- 
sions and the limitations imposed by the fewer means em- 
ployed, but certainly in no other respect. . Nay, in one way 
it is superior to them and to all Bach's later clavier music 
namely, in its perfect novelty of form. The master had 
good reason to seek for a suitable name for these pieces, for 
there was nothing like them in all the clavier music of the 
time. It is not merely the treatment of the polyphony, 
which pursues its two or three parts without an instant's 
interruption, and nevertheless reveals the harmony through- 
out with absolute distinctness and fulness, never diminishing 
in interest by monotony of changes, never wearying us by 
repetition : more than all this is the whole development of 
each tone-picture the sovereign independence with which 
all the forms of music are applied the canon, the fugue, 
free imitation, double and triple counterpoint, episodic 
working-out, inversions of the theme all combining and 
following each other in pieces of very moderate extent, 
without anywhere obtruding themselves on our notice; these 
are what render the Inventionen und Sinfonien unique in the 
whole body of clavier music. A slight leaning towards the 
Italian music of the time is certainly discernible, and some- 
what more decidedly in the sinfonias than in the inventions. 
Still these lovely blossoms have sprung principally from 
Bach's own organ and clavier pieces: a quintessence, as it 
were, of all he had accomplished. And yet we can perceive 
the efforts he has made to ripen his work, for, besides the 
fifteen inventions in two parts and the sinfonias in three, 
there are among the works he has left more pieces in the 
same style, which prove that he only gave his more earnest 
labour to what seemed to him best or most suitable for the 
work out of the abundance he could produce. 

He seems to have struggled longest after the ideal form of 
the inventions. A two-part fugue in C minor is, as it were, 
the butterfly half-escaped from the chrysalis ; it is, properly 


speaking, a fugue only to the end of the sixth bar, and after- 
wards more and more of an " invention " in its freedom of 
theme and episode. Another aspect of the process of evolu- 
tion is discoverable in three small pieces in D minor, 
E major and E minor, of which the first especially shows 
already in a high degree that bewitching play of inversion 
and double counterpoint which is equally characteristic of 
the inventions and the sinfonias. But they all three have 
that verse or song form in two divisions, which Bach with 
one exception excluded from the collection that forms the 
book, because it disturbed the flow of polyphonic develop- 
ment. He has perfectly attained his aim in another piece in 
C minor, only it is difficult to decide whether it should be 
designated fantasia or invention? If the rest could be re- 
garded merely as studies this is a paralipomenon, which, 
from its completeness of form, is worthy to be called 
either. The case is the same with two two-part and 
two three-part compositions which, however, he thought 
worthy to grace another work ; these are the preludes in 
C sharp major, F sharp major and A major in the first part 
of the Wohltemperirte Clavier, and that in B flat minor in 
the second. It is certainly doubtful whether the last piece 
can have been written so soon as this ; still, there are in the 
second part several pieces which can be proved to be of 
early date. In the case of the other three their early origin 
is certain, since the date of the first part of the Wohltem- 
perirte Clavier is well ascertained. That Bach should here 
have given the name of prelude to what he elsewhere calls a 
sinfonia shows, again, how unique was the style here un- 
folded. We have already seen three names applied to one 
and the same kind of piece. Another three-part piece must, 
on the contrary, be regarded as a study we might say, 
indeed, is a study for the first sinfonia in C major, and it 
is in the same key. This also is entitled a prelude. 100 

99 P. S. I., C. 7, No. 2 ; No. i, III., V., VI. (all in Vol. 201) ; C. 9, No. 10 

(Vol. 212, p. 2). 

100 P. S. V., C. 8, No. 7 (Vol. 247). Here it is placed among organ works, 
and appears indeed to have been used for that instrument. Its connection with 
the sinfonia will be apparent to any careful examiner. 


Bach, it is evident, was no less doubtful as to the order 
of the thirty pieces than as to their designation. This is 
interesting to observe, because we can detect that it was 
always ultimately decided on instructive grounds. The 
work exists in three distinct autographs. In Friedemann 
Bach's Little Clavier Book the inventions are separated 
from the sinfonias, but the principle of the arrangement is 
the same in each, since, so far as the number and keys of 
the pieces allow, they proceed first upwards and then down- 
wards. 101 A second autograph copy, which also seems to 
have been written in Cothen, gives the pieces in the same 
order ; but the sinfonia in the same key is placed immediately 
after each invention. The third copy, on the contrary, 
is arranged on the principle of using the keys only in the 
ascending order of the scale ; here all the inventions are 
given first, and then the sinfonias in the same order. 102 At 
the present day we should rather attempt to group such a 
collection of clavier pieces with reference to a pleasing con- 
trast in their various characters, but such an idea seems 
never to have occurred to Bach ; indeed, there was no need 
for it, for each is so different from every other that, in what- 
ever order they may be played, the effect of contrast will 
necessarily be produced. 

The scheme of the inventions is, for the most part, that 
they are divided into three sections, and have a remote 
resemblance to the form of the Italian aria. The first part 
is generally obviously disjoined from the rest by a decided 
cadence on the dominant or supermediant (i.e., the relative 
major, if the piece be in the minor) ; it comes in again in 
a more or less shortened form at the close. The sixth 
invention alone is in the two-part " song-form," with 
repeats ; but here, too, at the end of the second section, 

101 Thus : C major, D minor, E minor, F major, G major, A minor, B minor, 
B flat major, A major, G minor, F minor, E major, E flat major, D major, 
C minor. But there are only twelve bars written of the D major sinfonia, and 
that in C minor is wholly wanting. 

102 The second autograph is a little book in oblong quarto in the Royal 
Library at Berlin. The writing is not quite that of the Leipzig period, but 
sharper and more pointed ; still, it is essentially different from Bach's writing 
when he was at Weimar. The B.-G. edition is founded on the third autograph. 


the first is practically introduced again, constituting a regu- 
lar sonata movement in miniature. The first and seventh 
inventions are in three sections, but without being in cyclic 
form. Even in this contracted sphere an astonishing variety 
of conception is displayed. 

The first invention grows from this germ 

and is treated in imitation ; at the third bar there begins a 
moderately long episode on the inverted subject, which, in 
the course of the piece, is set in opposition to the subject in 
direct motion, giving rise to playful alternations of each. 
Of all fifteen this one has the most reserved and dispas- 
sionate character, and even the theme is somewhat con- 
ventional, only revealing its importance by degrees. 

The second, in C minor, is quite different. A passionate 
and eager phrase comes rushing in, followed by its exact 
facsimile and companion, and the two figures pursue one 
another, first one and then the other taking the lead. It is 
a canon on the octave ; at first the upper being followed by 
the lower part, at the distance of two bars, until bar 10 is 
reached, when they change places ; the lower part leads, 
now followed by the upper one, bar for bar, in exact imita- 
tion ; then, after a short digression, the first order of parts 
is resumed until the last bar. 

No. 3, in D major, is of a merry character, and consists of 
free imitation ; it is followed and eclipsed by the gloom of 
No. 4, which is treated now in direct, now in inverse motion, 
in D minor. 

No. 5, E flat major, which sets off at once in two parts, 
is in double counterpoint on the octave throughout, modu- 
lating through B flat major, C minor, and F minor, and 
then, by means of episodical extensions, back to the original 
key. It is a piece full of grace and dignity. 

The one in E major (No. 6) is full of roguish fun, and 
also begins in two parts ; a prominent part is taken by the 
double counterpoint, and the formation of episodes on the 
chief theme. 


No. 7, in E minor, shows an affinity in form with No. i ; 
but its expression is different ; it is suppliant and mournful ; 
still, in spite of its disturbed character, has extraordinary 
melodic beauty. 

In contrast to this, the next one, in F major (No. 8), is full 
of a happy and innocent contentment. It begins in canon, 
and after the twelfth bar it becomes freer, and most lovely 
little episodes are developed. 

The companion piece in the corresponding minor key 
(No. 9, F minor), which is similar in form to No. 5, but 
richer in episodic formations, again is full of impassioned 
strains of sadness, which rise to a great intensity of effect 
in bars 21 to 26. 

No. 10, in G major, begins like a fugue, but without any of 
the fetters of that form ; it flits to and fro now in imitation, 
and now in episodic extension. There is a piece of quite 
wanton fun at the reprise, when the upper part takes upon 
itself the double duty of a theme and response (dux and 

The piece which follows has a character of tormented 
restlessness. A chromatic counter-subject of two bars long, 
attached from the outset to the chief theme, evolves, by 
means of inversion in the fourth bar, an episode of the most 
painful and insistent kind, which reappears in alternation 
with the original counterpoint at bar 14. The phrases con- 
sist of six bars, but at the last two recurrences it is only 
five bars and a half long, and these two are merged directly 
in one another without any cadences to give a moment's 
rest (see bars 12, 13, and 18); each beat of the bar is more 
restless than the last. 

A feeling of honest German fun is given by No. 12, in 
A major, which corresponds in form to Nos. 5 and 9. 

The two next inventions, in A minor and B flat major $ 
both have somewhat the character of preludes, because the 
subjects and the workings-out alike move almost exclusively 
in harmonic passages ; the second betrays a close relation- 
ship to the prelude of the B flat partita in the first portion 
of the Clavieriibung. The three-fold division is, however, 
preserved in this case. In the B flat invention the first 


subject comes in in canon at its repetition (bar 16, in the 
middle), and in this place it has a bold, soaring character, 
while in the former it was dreamy and rather melancholy. 

The last invention comes in gravely, yet not without a 
certain dignified grace ; in its fugal working-out it alternates 
with episodical interludes, founded on the counterpoint to 
the theme. It is remarkable that the theme does not come 
in alone, but is supported by short notes in harmony in the 
bass. In no other of the inventions is this the case ; but it 
always happens so in the sinfonias (or inventions in three 
parts), and I believe that these have had a reactive in- 
fluence on this invention. The form of the Sinfonias in 
their barest outlines is founded on that of the Italian instru- 
mental trio, as settled by Corelli and diligently cultivated by 
Albinoni, Vivaldi, and many others ; it had also become 
widely known throughout Germany. 

We have already seen how Bach could make the Italian 
forms serve his purpose. He was the more likely to go on 
assimilating these forms since, in Cothen, chamber-music 
demanded his chief energies. It was a favourite mode of 
construction in the fugal movements of these trios which 
were generally written for two violins, string bass, and 
figured bass that the theme should not be given out quite 
alone, but supported by a figured bass, played by a fourth 
performer some particular accompanist with proper har- 
monies. Subsequently the figured bass was drawn into the 
fabric of the fugue, and the accompanying harmonies had 
to follow and support the other parts, so as to fill up any 
gaps left by the instruments in the harmonies. It is plain 
that Bach got this manner of treatment from the trio form. 
But that this influence was purely external is shown by the 
fact that absolutely nothing remains of the supporting bass 
but a slight remnant in those few bars at the beginning ; 
and even this appears, not as the groundwork of a set 
of accompanying chords, but as a free and independent 
part, and it soon establishes its full and individual right to 
a share in the polyphonic working-out. For this reason a 
further comparison would be out of place ; the Bach clavier 
trios (or inventions in three parts) are so thoroughly original 


that we cannot but doubt whether he thought at all of the 
Italian instrumental trio, and whether he did not rather 
think of his own works of that kind, to which we shall 
presently draw the reader's attention. The style which per- 
vades these last has at least a general similarity to the sin- 
fonias, although the treatment is much broader and bolder. 
The original source of both sets of works, however, is the 
organ. The polyphony is chiefly fugal, and but seldom 
(Nos. 2, 5, 15) canonic, although there is no actual fugue or 
canon in the set. It is difficult to say anything more on 
the general characteristics of the form of the sinfonias. 
With the greatest freedom, and yet with a marvellous order 
and arrangement, every device of thematic and episodic poly- 
phony is employed ; each piece is a microcosm of art a 
vessel of richly cut crystal filled with the purest and most 
precious essence. The effect of these is heightened if the 
(two-part) invention corresponding in number to each is 
played before it. For it cannot be doubted that the com- 
poser conceived each pair at the same time ; in Nos. 15, 
12, and 6 the themes agree, although not perhaps note for 
note, yet in their chief features. No less do the emotional 
characteristics of each correspond, and even in respect of 
form certain connections can be seen. 

The one in C major has the same brilliantly polished, 
reserved, and dispassionate nature as the invention in the 
same key, and the theme is treated in the same masterly 
manner, whether in its direct or inverted form : 

The C minor invention, with its feverish restlessness, is 
followed by a sinfonia full of the deepest yearning, which, 
however, is interrupted throughout by quicker passages ; the 
imitations are in canon form, as in the invention, but are 
thrown into the background in the second half by episodic 
developments of the loveliest kind. 

The one in D major exhibits the same cheerful character 
in three parts that its forerunner did in two, and adds to it 
some tender prattling. We might call this sinfonia, above 


all, a golden fruit in a silver shell. What a charming theme 
is this 

which, when it is taken up by the second part in A major, 
is met by this as second subject, which pleasantly accom- 
panies it 

while both parts are surmounted with this lovely and ex- 
pressive phrase : 

And now it proceeds in triple and double counterpoint with 
delicious animation, and between whiles little episodes peep 
out roguishly and vanish again; there is something to 
be said of nearly every bar. By this means of performing 
each pair together the player will be able to appreciate in 
every number the inner connection between the invention 
and its companion sinfonia ; how that which was fore- 
shadowed there is brought out with firmer strokes ; what 
was there abrupt and stiff becomes gentler in contour ; what 
was trivial becomes deepened ; what was restless and 
capricious becomes calm and firm ; and sometimes, too, 
how anxious complaint is intensified into the deepest woe 
and the most acute suffering. 

Particular mention must be made of the caressing sweet- 
ness almost in the style of Mozart of the sinfonia in E flat, 
coming after the haughty grace of the invention a piece 
which is also distinguished above all the others in its form, 
the upper parts being in free canon, while the bass repeats 
the same figure in each bar. 

Then comes the touching lament of the E minor sinfonia, 
which, however full of character, is yet in contrast to the 
pathos of the invention, and of an organic beauty such as 
Bach alone could create. 

n. F 


Allied to its invention, both in feeling and in contrast, is 
the sinfonia in G minor (No. 7), but in this a lovely melody, 
with broad and sustained notes, is continuously heard above 
the lower parts in a way that could hardly be deemed pos- 
sible in a piece of such polyphonic character ; it also has the 
character of an aria. 

How splendid is the intensifying of emotion in coming 
from the invention to the sinfonia in A minor, the theme of 
which, with its working-out by passages in thirds and sixths, 
bears a distinct resemblance to the beautiful organ fugue in 
A major ! 

The theme of the B minor sinfonia is strictly evolved from 
that of the invention at first in canon, but then treated 
in a more episodical way, as in No. 2 ; but, in the mean- 
time, impetuous passages in demi-semiquavers rush up and 
down, overtake, and cross each other in contrary motion, 
which, by the way, must have been a difficult task for the 
fingers on the clavichord, which never possessed two 

Finally, the sinfonia in F minor (No. 9) is positively 
steeped in anguish and pain ; but to compensate for this 
abnormal emotion the form is as strict and concentrated as 
possible ; or, to speak more accurately, the feeling firs', 
acquires its intensity by means of the form, and the form 
achieves its astounding concentration by means of the 
feeling, so that the two factors are indissolubly heightened 
in effect, in and through one another. The piece consists of 
three themes in triple counterpoint, neither of them inferior 
to the others in force of expression ; and, though they are 
externally in contrast to each other, they nevertheless all 
reflect the same particular emotion : 

I. ^ . II. 


At first only the first and second themes appear together, 
but then all three come in together nine different times in 


four permutations, and various though nearly related keys. 
As a relief to these there are five interludes, of which the first 
is in free form, but the others are built episodically upon the 
first theme ; direct and inverse motion and augmentation 
unite to give a most complex effect. Of the workings-out of 
the themes, sometimes two follow closely on one another, 
without an interlude between them, sometimes one stands 
alone ; but this is always in accordance with a fixed 
plan, as the interludes correspond closely with each other. 
The following scheme may serve to exhibit the wonderful 
arrangement of the phrases; the Arabic numerals stand for 
the number of times that the workings-out occur consecu- 
tively, and the Roman for the different interludes 

(the curved strokes indicate the connection between the 
different parts of the piece). The first interlude alone (bars 
5 and 6) stands by itself and without any corresponding 
part afterwards ; it releases the ear for a moment from the 
strain caused by the first bars, and lets it become acquainted 
with the themes themselves. In the development of the 
piece the greatest possible daring is shown in the way of bold 
leaps of intervals, discords resolved by skips, and false rela- 
tions. But we must not suppose that this originated in a forced 
and artificial correctness. Bach shows in the sinfonias 
how he can combine the most elaborate art with the 
most exquisite loveliness of effect. It was no caprice of 
pedantry that gave rise to the sinfonia in F minor ; on the 
contrary, it bears the impress of true imaginative work. 
This will be the ultimate feeling about the piece if, instead 
of being repelled by the disjointed impression produced 
perhaps on most people on a first acquaintance with it, we 
pay due attention to the course of the separate parts, and in 
playing the piece try and give to each its full effect as a 
living individual. Then perhaps it will strike the sensitive 
hearer with awe that such a deep abyss of woe could open 
in the human breast, but he will enjoy the comforting 

F 2 


thought that the moral force of the will can by perfection of 
form triumphantly bridge over even such depths as these. 
Kirnberger, Sebastian Bach's theoretical pupil, regarded the 
F minor sinfonia as an experiment which was bold even to 
obscurity, and quoted it as a proof of Bach's having 
infringed the rule which forbids the unprepared entrance of 
the fourth in the bass the so-called chord of the six-four. 108 
The passages where Bach took this liberty (bars 4, 14, 19, 
27, and 32) sound indeed strange, and at first unsatisfac- 
tory; they are justified by his general view of the nature of 
part-writing, which, according to him, took its rise no longer 
from the polyphonic system, but the harmonic. More will 
be said on this subject in another place. 



BACH'S first musical impressions arose from his hearing his 
father's violin-playing. His own first public post was that 
of violinist in Weimar. He afterwards held this position 
in the Duke's band for nine years, and in course of time was 
promoted to be concertmeister. In his later years, too, he 
did not neglect his string-playing, and in instrumental 
pieces in several parts he preferred to play the viola, since 
he enjoyed, as it were, surveying the harmonies on both 
sides from the middle position ; besides, good viola-players, 
and such as satisfied his requirements, were seldom to be 
met with. 104 It is not indeed necessary for a concertmeister 
to be an extraordinary performer a thorough musician with 
moderate technical qualities, if they are genuine and sound, 

103 Kunst des Reinen Satzes, II., 2, p. 39, ff. All the six possible permuta- 
tions of the three themes are given here, the second and sixth of which are not 
employed by Bach in the sinfonia. 

1W Forkel, p. 45. Quantz, Versuch einer Anweisung, &c., p. 207. 


will often be much more useful in this place 105 and consider- 
ing that no contemporary, not even his son Philipp Emanuel, 
mentions Bach's violin-playing, and that he devoted his chief 
energies to the organ and clavier, we shall hardly be wrong 
in supposing that he was not possessed of any extraordinary 
facility on the violin. But it is not intended to give the 
impression of his having been an insignificant player. He 
was not the only one of the great musicians of Germany in 
whom the defects possibly arising from an insufficient tech- 
nical method have been made up for by the individuality 
and magnificence of their creative genius. Thus, the piano- 
forte playing of C. M. von Weber lacked much in neatness 
and equality, and nevertheless it had in it a soaring flight 
and a magic charm which enraptured those who heard him. 
Nay, even Handel's violin-playing, although he laid less 
stress upon it after his residence in Hamburg, was 
sufficiently full of fire and importance to induce great per- 
formers to come to learn of him. 106 Bach's familiarity with 
stringed instruments extended so far that he even undertook 
to make changes in their shape and build to suit his pur- 
poses ; while in Cothen he invented an instrument, some- 
thing between a tenor and a violoncello, which was held like 
a violin, and had five strings tuned to the notes C, G, d, a, 
and e' ; he called it viola pomposa, and wrote a suite for it ; he 
also had it used in Leipzig for the easier performance of his 
difficult and rapid basses. 107 But from a consideration of his 
compositions for strings, and especially those for violins 
alone, it follows that his knowledge of this branch of art 
must have been enormous. Granted that he may not have 
been able to execute these himself quite perfectly and 
yet he must also have been a good violoncellist, for he wrote 

105 Quantz, p. 179 : " But there is no absolute necessity that he (i.e., the 
leader of the music) should possess the skill to execute passages of peculiar 
difficulty ; this can well be left to those who try to distinguish themselves only 
by playing to please, of whom there are plenty to be met with." 

106 Chrysander, Handel, I., p. 228. 

197 Compare on this App. A, No. 4. A composition for flute and viola pom- 
posa without bass, by Telemann, is to be found in his Getreue Musikmeister 
(Hamburg, 1728, pp. 77 and 84). 


similar solo compositions for that instrument at all events, 
only one who had the most thorough experience of the capa- 
bilities of the instrument and their utmost limits could 
produce such works. And such experience is not to be 
attained by theoretical speculation, but only by practical 

It is easy to see, from the individuality of Bach's violin 
compositions, from the number of parts employed, from 
certain types of figures, and from the interweaving of one or 
even two more instruments obbligato, that their peculiar style 
did not, at all events, take its rise solely in the nature of the 
instrument. The overpowering influence of the organ style, 
which relentlessly overmastered all that came within its 
reach, is even here too evident to be overlooked. With 
special regard to the employment of double stopping, it 
must be added that Corelli had already raised it to an 
important place in the art by his violin sonatas with harpsi- 
chord accompaniment, and had even attempted to employ 
fugal treatment, as far as it could be conveniently adapted 
to the instrument ; and that the Germans, who at the end of 
the seventeenth century were in other respects far inferior to 
the Italian violinists in execution and inventive faculty, had 
cultivated this very branch of technique viz., playing in 
more than one part at a time with especial energy, which 
is very significant, as showing how it was their nature to 
strive after harmonic richness much more than after clear- 
ness of melody. Nikolaus Bruhns, Buxtehude's talented 
pupil, who was mentioned before as an eminent violinist, 
attained such a proficiency in double stopping that it 
seemed as if three or four violins were being played 
together ; and then he would sometimes sit down in front of 
the organ with his violin, and with his feet add a pedal-part 
to the full harmonies he elicited from the strings. 108 In the 
case of that native of Celle, Nikolaus Strungk of whom we 
have spoken before (Vol. I., p. 201), and to whom Corelli, 
after hearing him play, was forced to cry in amazement, " I 
am called Arcangelo, but you must be called Arcidiavolo" 

108 Mattheson, Ehrenpforte, p. 26. 


the chief feature of his performance was probably the 
playing in several parts, since he, as well as Bruhns, was 
an organ and clavier player. 109 The secretary of the elector of 
Mainz, Johann Jakob Walther (born 1650), who was also a 
violinist, gives no little attention to this particular branch 
of technique in his " Hortulus Chelicus," published in 1694, 
and especially alludes to it in the title. 110 So that in 
adopting this form Bach was aiding and furthering a ten- 
dency which was particularly German ; but he wedded to it 
all that had been acquired by the Italian feeling for form, 
and improved this by means of his incomparably greater 
power of construction. 

He wrote a book containing six compositions in several 
movements, without any accompaniment, for the violin, 
and a similar one for the violoncello (or the viola pom- 
posa). I do not know whether he had any predecessor in 
the isolated treatment of a stringed instrument, but I 
should be inclined to doubt it, because the Italians, who were 
the general exemplars in matters of this kind, in defiance 
of all art, put a cantabile and one-part style of playing 
in the foremost place, whereby the music must have lost 
half the intended effect through being deprived of the sup- 
porting harmonies. 111 All that can be said with certainty as 
to the date of these compositions is that it cannot be later 

109 Gerber, Lex. II., col. 604. Strungk tuned his violin in such a way as to 
facilitate the performance of passages in harmony. 

110 " Hortulus Chelicus. Das ist Wohl-gepflanzter Violinischer Lust-Garten 
Darin auch durch Beriihrung zuweilen zwey, drey, vier Seithen, auff der 
Violin die lieblichiste Harmonic erwiesen wird." " Garden of the Lyre. That 
is, the well-stocked pleasure-garden of violin practice, in which is shown how to 
produce the loveliest harmony on the violin by occasionally touching two, 
three, or four strings." 

111 A remark of Mattheson's in Critica Musica may be here quoted, I. (1722), 
p. 224, i. : "I was lately shown a Suonata per Violino solo del Sigr : M. M., 
which, to say nothing of the key being in F minor, demands such long fingers 
that I know no one who could easily execute the passages ('praestanda 
praestiren '). And yet I cannot blame such a work if its object is intended for 
showing his own exceptional advantage in the way of long fingers, or else for 
an exercise, rather than for everybody's execution for them to boast of." The 
violin solo sonatas by Telemann and Pisendel were certainly all composed 
later than Bach's. 


than the Cothen period. The six violin solos consist of 
three sonatas and three suites ; and if at the present day 
we are accustomed to speak and write of Bach's six violin 
sonatas, it is an inaccuracy for which Bach is not to 
blame. 112 The difference of the two generally is clearly 
definable, since the suite consists principally of dance-forms, 
which are mostly introduced by a prelude. 

The suite-form, by which a new laurel branch was added 
to the immortal crown of Bach's fame for he it was who 
brought it to its highest perfection stretches back its roots 
into the sixteenth century. Its development I believe to be 
easily discernible in general, although in the details much is 
obscure. 113 It was in dance-music that the song-tunes 
from which they took their rise were first transferred to 
the imitating instruments, and then were independently 
enlarged and extended, the song-form being retained. It 
followed naturally, from this, that people wanted to hear 
such dance-music on other festive occasions, so that, as 
its popularity increased, the composers turned their atten- 
tion to this kind of composition. Wandering musicians 
carried the most popular of these from place to place 
and from country to country. About the year 1600, the 
Italian paduanas and gagliardas, or romanescas, became very 
widely known ; and how charmingly they lent themselves 
to instrumental treatment is seen in the five-part pieces 
in this form which Johann Moller (the court organist 
at Darmstadt) published in the years 1610 and 1611. 
Besides these, much attention was given to the forms of 
the volta, the passamezzo, the balletts, and the intradas, 
which last were called " Aufzuge," or " processions," by 
the German composers, and indicated a particular kind of 
solemn music which preceded a more intricate dance. 
The ring-dance (branle) and courante came from France, 
unless, indeed, the last was originally Italian. The only 

112 P. S. III., C. 4 (vol. 228). B. G. xxvii., i., Vide App. A, No. 4. 

113 I must own that my opinions are founded on very incomplete materials. 
Any one who knows the state of musical history with regard to the seventeenth 
century will pardon this. 


German dance which figures here is the allemande, showing, 
as it would seem by its name, that there were no different 
varieties of dance in Germany. But to make up for this 
the Germans showed their individuality in the working-up 
of the foreign forms ; thus, in 1604, Johann Ghro, of 
Dresden, published thirty paduanas and gaillards, and 
announced in the preface that they were " set in the 
German manner." 114 No general name could be given to 
such collections of dances, seeing that they were not yet 
arranged according to any comprehensive principle. The 
only arrangement was that the paduana was followed by 
the gagliarda, because of the contrast between their rhythms 
(the first being in common time and the second in triple 

At this stage came the Thirty Years' War, which, 
although it brought the most fearful misery upon Germany, 
nevertheless appears to have forwarded the development of 
the suite in that country. The idea of choosing out from among 
the dance-forms of civilised Europe the most original and 
adaptable, and uniting them in an artistic whole, received a 
certain impulse in the unhappy state of Europe, which had 
driven Italians, Spaniards, Frenchmen, Swedes, Danes, and 
Poles to jostle one another in the busy ferment of warfare 
for a series of years. When affairs became settled again, 
efforts were plainly made to arrive at a higher form of 
art. To this end it was, before all, needful for the clavier 
composers to step in and preserve the adaptable musical 
essence of the dance-tunes by transferring them from the 
province of the unruly guilds of German town musicians to 
the quieter, purer atmosphere of domestic music. All evi- 
dence goes to prove that the invention of the clavier suite 
must be sought for in the school of Sweelinck. That it was 
German is plainly seen from the order of the pieces, which 
had by this time become firmly settled, and in which the 
allemande held the first place, followed by the courante ; 

111 Compare Carl Israel, Die Musikalischen Schatze der Gymnasialbibliothek 
und der Peterskirche zu Frankfurt a. M. (Frankfurt, a. M., 1872, p. 41). 


for the finale two new dance-forms were employed the 
Spanish sarabande and the English gigue, either both 
together or singly. The Germans continued to work up 
foreign materials " in a German style," and to associate 
them with their own forms, as they had done at the be- 
ginning of the century. At the same time dance-music 
naturally did not decrease among the town pipers, but was 
carefully cherished by them, though more or less disjoined 
from its original practical purpose. It was very likely that 
for " table-music " or other festive occasions several con- 
trasted dance-tunes would be played one after another. 
Whether from this circumstance a sort of customary and 
regular order arose as we saw in the case of the juxta- 
position of paduanas and gagliardas is at present uncer- 
tain. At all events, the town pipers had a common name 
for such collections of dances, which name was appropriated 
by the composers of the clavier suites ; its general meaning 
was that of a complete whole consisting of many parts, and 
thence it came to be applied to clavier variations. This 
name is partie, or, in Italian, partita. 

In the sets of variations, as in the sets of dances called by 
this name, the same key was generally adhered to in all the 
sections, which shows that their origin was that of mere exter- 
nal juxtaposition. The form invented by the German clavier 
masters was now adopted in the Italian chamber sonatas 
of Corelli and his followers. But the different technical 
requirements of the violin, and the nature of the Italians, 
who gave the greatest attention to melodic beauty, 
threatened to obliterate the characteristics of the separate 
types until they could no longer be recognised. Even the 
German nature, with its predilections for harmonic elabo- 
ration, could not entirely counteract this. Then the French, 
who loved strongly marked rhythms, adopted these sets of 
dances. French orchestral music had long been familiar 

116 The Lustige Cotala (compare Vol. I., p. 20, note 36) says, at p. 181 : 
" One asked us if we had by us any sonatas, or any other things set for instru- 
menia. I said, Yes, and opened my portfolio and took out several pieces and 
parthies." On Kuhnau's parties see Vol. I., p. 237, note 79 ; on the partie as a 
variation see Vol I., p. 127. 


to the court bands and guilds of town pipers, 116 and its 
influence had extended to clavier music as well. It was no 
less a man than Pachelbel who was first infected by it, and 
who transferred the French overture to the clavier (see 
Vol. I., p. 124). But this was not enough ; the French 
must lay their hands even on the clavier dances. But the 
order of the parts was already so firmly fixed that they 
could not venture to alter it. The component sections 
even among them were still the allemande, the courante, the 
sarnbande, and the gigue ; but they introduced them by an 
overture, and added dances of their own at the end, such 
as the gavotte, the minuet, the rigaudon, the passepied, the 
bourree, and the chaconne, which was properly Italian, 
inserting it before the gigue, or else in substitution for it ; 
but in all these they had recourse to the most pronounced 
rhythm. And as this is the most important element in any 
dance, it was only natural that they should give these 
compositions the names by which they became known. 
The form returned to Germany under the name of "suite," 
there to attain its fullest perfection under Sebastian Bach, 
who had been preceded by George Bohm, and whose con- 
temporary Handel treated it in a few important com- 
positions. Bach ultimately rejected the French titles ; he 
restored the name partie in one of his chief clavier works, 
as well as in the three so-called suites for violin solo. 
The suite the oldest form of instrumental music in many 
movements is a German production, in the perfecting of 
which all the then important nations of Europe took a more 
or less active part. 

It is more difficult to define the limits of the sonata, 
the history of which is contemporary with that of the suite. 
It does not entirely dispense with dance forms, but never 
consists of them alone. What was understood by the 
sonatas of Giov. Gabrieli at the beginning 01 the seven- 
teenth century how this form influenced Sebastian Bach's 

116 Compare Vol. I., p. 201. The oboe, or the " French Schalmey," was 
quite a common instrument among the town pipers in the last decade of 
the seventeenth century, as appears from " Battalus, der vorwitzge Musikant." 
Freyburg, 1691, pp. 63, 64. Compare, also, the catalogue on Vol. L, p. 169. 


cantatas, how sometimes it keeps to its original unity of 
movement, and again sometimes is extended to two move- 
ments has been shown before (see Vol. I., p. 124). When, 
in the second half of the century, chamber music and solo 
violin-playing made such gigantic strides in Italy, Corelli 
adopted the form in two movements, and by freely com- 
bining two such pairs of movements, made up a whole con- 
stituting a three-part sonata da chiesa (church sonata), which 
he transferred from chamber music back to sacred music, and 
in its new form it was accompanied on the organ. When it 
was not intended for church performance dances might be 
inserted ; and this was done sometimes in the manner of a 
suite, with an allemande at the beginning, and more 
frequently by concluding with a gigue. The chief principle, 
then, of the sonata consisted in the alternation of slow, 
broadly treated movements with quick and generally fugal 
ones ; they must also contrast with each other in rhythm, 
and, if dance-forms were introduced, they had to be adapted 
to this rule. As in the suite, so also here, the normal num- 
ber of movements is four. But, inasmuch as the second slow 
movement was by preference in another key, the sonata 
resembled the concerto, of which the influence was also felt 
in the construction of the several movements, especially the 
last. Thus the Gabrieli sonata assisted in forming a new 
type of art without being absorbed into it ; indeed, even in the 
latter half of the seventeenth century, the secular sonata 
for full instrumental band was still retained and kept up 
by the town pipers, who used to play it as a beautiful 
piece of music in the manner of a motett 117 at their per- 
formances of " table music " and on other suitable occasions. 118 
These two types are thus quite distinct from Corelli's church 
and chamber sonatas. While in course of time the suite 

117 So runs the well-known definition in M. Praetorius. Syntagma Musicum, 

III., 2. 

118 The " Lustige Cotala" (p. 44) says, in an account of a " table music" at 
a wedding : " We then played a sonata, in which there was zfuga. ; he himself 
played the viola." Battalus (Loc. Cit., p. 63) says : " Then the musicians began 
to make music. They played a sonata with two trumpets, two hautbois, and a 
bassoon, which sounded very well." 


was left entirely to the clavier, the reverse was the case 
with the chamber sonata, in so far that, having been 
properly a violin composition, it remained so for a time ; 
however, as we have seen (Vol. I., p. 237), it was transferred 
to the clavier by Kuhnau. No direct step is perceptible from 
this stage to the modern sonata form ; but the polyphonic 
nature of the allegro movement, which no longer appealed 
to the spirit of the time, had to be replaced by another 
kind of treatment. It was another Italian Domenico 
Scarlatti who detected this ; he wrote clavier sonatas, of 
which each movement was in song form, homophonic, and 
decorated with new and tasteful passages. The three- 
movement form of the concerto was already adopted, and 
this opened the way by which the modern sonata could 
reach its final perfection, coming down by way of Philipp 
Emanuel Bach and Haydn to Beethoven. 

Sebastian Bach's three sonatas for violin solo display the 
form in its strictest and purest development. All are in 
four movements. But, inasmuch as the second slow move- 
ment is in another though nearly allied key, while the rest 
keep to the original key, the fundamental scheme is still in 
three movements ; the first adagio unites with the following 
allegro to form one section, and in the majority of cases leads 
directly into it by means of a cadenza on the chord of the 
dominant. The difference of the modern sonata consists 
only in the style of the several movements: in other respects 
the conditions are similar. In both, the first part is followed 
by a second in thorough contrast to it, and the last move- 
ment is an attempt to resolve into itself the different 
meanings of the other two ; thus, by a psychological process, 
as it were, it serves as a bond between them. In both, the 
greatest musical importance is given to the first allegro 
movement, while the finale is of lighter calibre as regards 
both substance and form. The introductory adagio is not 
considered indispensably necessary in the later sonata ; but 
in the most important branch of the genus, the orchestral 
symphony, it is almost always retained, although in a 
shortened form. Still, even here the introductory adagio 
is in its scheme very different from the middle one, retaining 


throughout the nature of a prelude ; while the second adagio 
enters as a piece of music in strict form. This fundamental 
rule is indeed not always adhered to in the master's other 
works in sonata-form ; it is enough that it appears generally 
in such a way as to leave no doubt as to this method of 
treatment being intentional. 

In spite of their being written for an instrument which, 
in comparison with the organ and clavier, and considering 
the direction in which the composer's chief power and 
importance lay, is confined within the narrowest limits, 
these sonatas have something very great about them. By 
the extension of the chords produced by double stopping, 
and the skilful employment of the open strings, an almost 
inconceivable fulness of tone is produced ; the sharply 
defined rhythms, the bold and often almost violent execution 
made necessary by the polyphonic treatment, and especially 
the fire and force of the fugal allegro movements, give to the 
sonatas more perhaps than to any other of Bach's instru- 
mental works a certain demoniacal character. The type of 
the first movement is settled by Corelli in his violin sonatas 
(Op. 5) ; it is broad and melodious, but a free and fantastic 
character is imparted to it by the introduction of many 
ornamental figures of various types. This character 
is rendered even more conspicuous in Bach by the form 
which his polyphonic treatment takes ; because, for practical 
reasons the progression of the subsidiary parts frequently 
can only be indicated, and has to be filled up by the hearer. 
In the beautiful and impassioned introductory adagio of the 
first sonata, in G minor, the melody first appears in the 
middle part; the upper part meanwhile is progressing in 
single notes and phrases, and seems to vanish away ; it is 
then lightly touched in the course of the melody, and so 
brought to sight again; but it is there all along for him who 
can hear it. From bar 14, where the melodic phrases of the 
opening are repeated in C minor, the upper part plays the 
principal role; the middle part is not on that account 
inactive, but often displays remarkable independence. The 
same method is of course pursued with the lower part ; 
the melody has often to be interrupted for a moment in 


order to play a short bass note, and often the bass is 
vaguely heard through the ornamental figures. It is quite 
an exception when the treatment is in more than three 
parts, allowing of course for the single four-part chords 
occasionally thrown in for the sake of fulness. In the 
case of fugues, it is a matter of course that the counter- 
point can only be very simple mere chords often having to 
suffice for the accompaniment of the theme and in spite 
of the more animated time, much can only be indicated. 
Passages of runs and arpeggios in one part, are introduced 
in Corelli's manner to rest and prepare the mind for the 
polyphony that is to follow. For the rest we may be 
sure that the master of the fugue himself would be as 
careful as possible to satisfy the strictest requirements ; 
we find not only free fugatos, but genuine and thoroughly 
worked-out fugues, displaying the most marvellous wealth 
of combination and invention. At present the best known 
fugue is the one in the first sonata ; Mattheson, in 
two of his writings, draws attention to that in the second 
sonata (A minor), as being a model in its kind ; which 
circumstance is of importance when we remember what his 
feeling was towards Bach. He says: 119 " The length of the 
theme in a fugue is, in some measure, left to the taste of the 
composer, but, as a general rule, it may be said that the 
earlier and the closer the response follows the theme the 
better will the fugue sound. Frequently the most excellent 
working-out is found in a fugue on the fewest notes. Who 
would ever think that these eight short notes 

could be fruitful enough to give rise naturally to a counter- 
point of more than a whole sheet of music without any con- 
siderable extension ? And yet this has been done, as is plainly 

119 Kern melodischer Wissenschaft, Hamburg, 1737, p. 147. Vollkomm.- 
Capellmeister, p. 369. Mattheson's citations are incorrect in both places, but 
chiefly so in the first, where he writes the theme in 3-4 time ; the sharp before 
d" is lacking in the second piece. 


to be seen, by the great Bach, of Leipzig, who was particu- 
larly happy in this kind of composition ; and more than that, 
it is treated directly and in inversion." 

But the fugue in the third sonata in C major must be 
allowed to surpass these two in grandeur and importance ; 
the only obstacle which prevents its attaining a wide-spread 
popularity is its enormous difficulty. It will presently be 
shown that this difficulty may probably be explained by the 
history of its composition. The third movement of the G minor 
sonata consists of a charmingly conceived Siciliano in B flat 
major, with marvellous polyphonic working-out, but the tender 
character of this dance-form is injured by the strength and 
harshness of tone necessarily resulting from the employment 
of several parts ; this is one of the cases in which the alien 
character of the style is very prominent. The corresponding 
movement of the A minor sonata is in C major and in song- 
form, with two sections ; a broad and expressive melody 
comes in supported by short, staccato notes in the lowest 
part, while the middle part takes a small share in the 
development of the melody. The sonata in C major has, 
in this place, a largo in F major of quite as expressive a 
character, which is not separated from the other movements 
by any pause. In all three the treatment of the last move- 
ment is identical. The form is in two sections, and in only 
one musical part ; it flies along in almost incessant semi- 
quavers ; the type is exactly that of the last movement of a 
concerto, which has been before described (Vol. I., p. 409). 

Bach's standpoint at the time of his writing these sonatas 
is plainly shown by the circumstance that all three reappear 
either in parts or in their entirety, in the form of clavier or 
organ pieces. The whole of the middle one is arranged as 
a clavier sonata, and transposed for this from A minor to 
D minor. 120 Although it does not exist in Bach's hand- 
writing, the wonderful genius displayed in the arrange- 
ment leaves no room for doubting that it is from the 
composer's own hand. In its clavier form it is so much 
richer in treatment that at times the original appears 

p S. I., C. 3, No. 3 (Vol. 213, p. 24). 


a mere sketch beside it ; the natural way in which the 
polyphonic richness is brought out shows what was the 
proper birthplace of Bach's violin compositions of this kind. 
At the same time it is quite certain that the sonata was 
originally written for the violin ; this is shown not only by 
many details, but also by the selection of D minor as the 
key, whereby a great deal is brought into depths of pitch 
which we are not accustomed to in Bach ; this transposition 
was necessary in order to avoid too great extension in the 
compass of the parts. The fugue of the G minor sonata 
exists in an arrangement for the organ ; that it, too, was 
first intended for the violin is shown by the nature of the 
theme. 121 Its connection with the original is here not so 
close, and in two places there is an extension of about one 
bar; the arrangement must have been made very soon after 
its composition, for a copy exists which was made in the 
year 1725. A more complicated method has been taken 
with regard to the C major sonata. A clavier arrangement 
of the first movement was made by Bach, and its lower 
pitch (G major) shows again that the violin form is the 
older. 122 In this, more than any other place, it is clear that 
the composer's imagination clung to the clavier style, 
even in the original conception. Here there appears no 
melody with fanciful figures suitable to the violin, but that 
sort of soft progression of slowly changing harmonies which 
owes its origin neither to the nature of the violin nor to any 
Italian influence ; indeed its source is very evident. Even 
with the most perfect performance the intention of the com- 
poser can never be realised on the violin ; the execution of 
chords of three or four notes has inevitably a violent and 
harsh effect, which contradicts the character of the move- 
ment. When played on the clavier in that enriched form 
which the composer himself gave it, it is discovered to be 
one of the most marvellous productions of Bach's genius; 
one of those preludes which is pervaded by a single 
rhythm throughout, and in which the harmonies softly melt 

121 B.-G. XV., p. 149, transposed into D minor. P. S. V., C. 3, No. 4 
(Vol. 242). Compare Appendix A., No. 4. 

182 P. S. I., C. 3, Appendix pp. i and 2 (not in English edition of Peters). 
II- G 


into one another like cloud shapes, while from beneath their 
magic veil comes a long-drawn and yearning melody. All 
that the heart feels, and that the tongue vainly endeavours 
to utter, is here revealed at once, and yet remains remote 
and unapproachable. No human being since has ever 
created such tones ! 

Nothing remains of the other sonata movements arranged 
for the clavier. Did any such arrangement exist ? As to 
the fugue this question may safely be answered in the 
negative. I take it to be rather a transcription of an organ 
piece. Its theme consists of the first line of the chorale 
tune " Komm, heiliger Geist, Herre Gott," an unheard-of 
procedure in a violin sonata. The contrapuntal artifice is so 
complicated for a solo violin that it demands impossibilities 
from the player, and skilled players have assured me that 
at times the method of writing is as contrary to what is 
playable as if the composer had never set eyes upon a 
violin at all. 

Special attention must be drawn to the fact that Matthe- 
son, in his " grosse Generalbasschule," gives a description 
of an organ fugue on the same theme, which agrees almost 
entirely with Bach's treatment. He gives the theme as 


and remarks " (i) that it is the beginning of a chorale ; 

(2) that in the response not the least artifice is attempted ; 

(3) that the fugal counter-subject might be chromatic, and 
that the fugue might therefore be treated as a double fugue 
since it is too simple without such treatment; (4) that the 
chief subject allows of being turned both ways; (5) that direct 
and inverse motion could be united and harmonised together; 
(6) also that there are many other neat combinations which 
might be made into the subject and the response by bringing 
them into closer contact, &c." He then (p. 38) gives his 
own views as to the right way of treating the work. 123 

128 The theme is also quoted in the Vollkomm.-Capellmeister, p. 363. 


Now in Bach's violin fugue there occurs at the very begin- 
ning the chromatic countersubject which he requires ; and we 
here find that complicated stretto which he speaks of under 
No. 6, with the entrances now after the first, and now after 
the fourth note of the theme (compare bars 93 if and 
109 ff) ; here, too, is the inversion (bars 201 ft), and of 
course there is plentiful employment of double counterpoint. 
Those of Mattheson's precepts which Bach fails to comply 
with are either unnecessary for the free and irrepressible 
swing of the fugue (such as the inversion of the theme, 
retaining the exact semitones), or else tasteless (such as the 
combination of the direct and inverse motions of the theme); 
such a combination could only be pleasing if one part 
entered after the other. But, in fact, Bach worked in a 
richer material than Mattheson could elaborate. Thus he 
adds to the chromatic countersubject a second counter- 

(compare for example bars 135-136 and the episodical 
extension in the bars that follow ; also bars 293-294 and bars 
107-108) ; possibly these are included in Mattheson's " &c." 
Now it certainly cannot be said that the whole treatment as 
devised by Mattheson, and actually executed by Bach, was 
altogether an obvious one only the introduction of the 
chromatic countersubject was not unusual, but occurs 
several times in works of this period 124 so that Mattheson 
must have been familiar with Bach's fugue, though certainly 
not in its present form. It would be very easy to point 
to the Hamburg journey as the time when Mattheson 
became acquainted with it, but Bach would hardly have 
taken his violin solos with him, if indeed they were written 
at this time, but rather his organ pieces only, and possibly 
some vocal compositions. Mattheson for the first time 
betrays his acquaintance with the violin sonatas in the year 
1737, but he had already set the fugue theme quoted above 

m For example, in a fugue by Pachelbel on a theme nearly similar to this 
one in Commer. Musica Sacra I., p. 156, and also in Sebastian Bach's Organ 

G 2 


as an exercise at a trial of organists on October 8, 1727. It 
may be remembered that in the same passage of the " grosse 
Generalbasschule," the theme and countersubject of Bach's 
great G minor fugue had been quoted, which the author 
had once employed for a similar purpose (see p. 23). 
Apparently there was a chorale fugue by Bach on the hymn 
" Komm, heiliger Geist, Herre Gott," which he had per- 
formed in Hamburg in 1720, and which he then made free 
use of for the violin fugue. Little as it profits a man to 
deck himself in borrowed plumes, yet it was not an unheard- 
of trait in Mattheson, since he could not prevail upon him- 
self to name Bach as the composer of the G minor fugue. 
Many of his remarks sound as if he wanted to justify 
himself in his own eyes for instance, when he calls the 
fugue theme " easy," and insists that it is borrowed from a 
chorale, and when he suggests the introduction of the 
chromatic countersubject with the remark that without it 
the fugue would be too simple. And yet here it is, in its 

Among Bach's chief works I place the three sets of com- 
positions for the clavier known by the name of the French 
Suites, the English Suites, and the six Partitas. We may 
go farther, and extend the observation, with some incon- 
siderable limitations, to the three other violin solos, and all 
the compositions for solo violoncello, with which we shall 
have more to do subsequently. But we must remark in 
passing that in them Bach only adheres quite slightly to 
the Italian form, but keeps very closely to that of the clavier 
suite as it had been developed first by the Germans, then 
by the French, and lastly by himself. There is a greater 
adaptation of style in these than in the sonatas. What 
was gained from the French was the careful marking of 
the rhythm, which was almost unrecognisable among the 
Italians, although it is the most essential feature of dance 
music. Corelli's Sarabandes are often nothing more than 
slow Sicilianos, and sometimes are divested of every charac- 
teristic, even the three-time. His Gavottes lack the, 
important feature of beginning with the second half of the 
bar of common time, and once he even begins with a short 


note before the bar. In the Allemandes no rhythmic type 
whatever can be recognised ; a dignified movement and a 
polyphonic style seem to be considered sufficient ; the 
dignity is often sacrificed in an Allegro or Presto. The old 
courante, according to its etymology, indicated among the 
Italians a piece full of flying, running passages, but the Ger- 
mans and French gave it a grave, sustained, and impassioned 
character. But the Italian type had shown itself too prolific 
in art, and too firmly settled, and in particular had exercised 
too important an influence upon the last movement of the 
concerto (see Vol. I., p. 409), to be easily driven from its 
position ; thus there existed side by side two utterly different 
types. It would be well to distinguish once for all between 
the corrente and the courante. 

From the attempt to smooth away all peculiarities of 
rhythm, there grew up among the Italians an inclination to 
confuse the characteristic divisions of the suite with those of 
the sonata and the concerto. The French, on the other hand, 
not only gave important assistance to the development of 
the suite form, by giving definiteness and prominence to the 
contrasts of rhythm, but they also made an important 
advance by the suppleness and pliability of their passages, 
and by the elegance and richness of their adornments. 
Since this was willingly acknowledged by every one, they 
wished to be taken as the universal models of suite com- 
positions. But, happily, the musical world was not so blinded 
by this as to set aside the service, at least as important to 
this form of music, rendered by the Germans, and Mattheson 
says, quite justly and with happy preciseness : " The French 
indeed wrote, or rather pretended to write, Courantes and 
Allemandes for the clavier, and indeed they made very free 
with these particular forms ; but he who will compare without 
prejudice their bald, thin, and empty jingling with a well- 
written, nerveuse, German courante with its distributed poly- 
phony, will see how little truth there is in their pretensions." 12 * 
He might have said yet more ; for the French not only did 
nothing towards the combination of the dances to a com- 

136 Neu eroffnetes Orchestre, S. 187. 


plete whole, but rather checked the growth of the best type 
of arrangement. Marchand, in a suite in D minor, introduces 
after a prelude, first an allemande,two courantes, a sarabande, 
and a gigue, and then a chaconne in four " couplets," a 
gavotte and a minuet. The true idea of concluding with a 
gigue is either misunderstood or ignored. Couperin's sets 
of pieces are scarcely to be called suites at all ; the second 
set of his Pieces de Clavecin (D minor) contains allemande, 
two courantes, sarabande ; then a free interlude in D major ; 
a gavotte, minuet, les Canaries (a kind of gigue) with a varia- 
tion, a passepied and trio, a rigaudon and trio eleven 
independent pieces varying between major and minor a 
rondeau, and then for the close a piece in the style of a gigue 
but very freely written. The fifth set (A major) consists of 
an allemande, two courantes, a sarabande, a gigue, and six 
rondos, intermingled with pieces in free style. In spite of 
this he never entirely quits the ground of the suite, for he 
keeps to the same key throughout, even when he does not 
begin with the usual pieces. But it is clear that he never 
felt the necessity of welding together the various constituent 
parts to one perfect whole of many members. Why he failed 
is seen in the titles that Couperin bestowed on his clavier 
pieces, in which he either followed or introduced a custom 
that was general, though I have previously found it only in 
the case of Gaspard de Roux. He tries to make them 
represent definite personifications, or a connected series of 
actions, or even of public events. Thus, titles such as these 
occur: The Sublime, The Majestic, Industry, Shyness, 
Gloom, Danger; and still more individual names in the 
rondos and free pieces, such as The Florentine Lady, The 
Sailor of Provence, the Gossip, Nanette, Manon, Mimi ; and 
in one case a piece called " The Fair Pilgrims " is in three 
sections, of which the first represents the pilgrimage (treated 
of course in a thoroughly French and frivolous manner), the 
second a petition for alms, and the third gratitude for it. 126 
Another piece in three sections is called les Bacchanales, and 

136 Couperin's Werke, edited by J. Brahms. Vol. I. Bergedorf, near Hamburg, 
1871, p. 55. f., from whence the examples quoted above are taken. 


is divided into Enjouements bachiques, Tendresses bachiques, and 
Fureurs bachiques. Pictures from nature are of rare 
occurrence, and it is always the idea of motion that is repre- 
sented, as clouds, bees, or a floating veil. The chief point of 
interest is nearly always outside the pieces, as it were, and 
music is a mere accessory ; briefly it is a refined kind of 
ballet music, and is like the orchestral dance tunes in Lully's 
operas transcribed for the clavier. This corresponds, as we 
saw in another case (Vol. I., p. 246), to the theatrical nature 
of the French, but restrains and destroys the activity of free 
musical genius. We must, however, consider that every day 
the French either saw or performed in the theatres the 
other orchestral types of dances, if not actually the alle- 
mande, and so got to connect them in their minds with 
certain definite ideas and representations. In Germany the 
case was different ; in the courts it is true that they aped 
the French ballet music, but the people were, happily, not 
affected by this,* and so could enter into the purely musical 
value of the dance-form without any disturbing associations 
with the stage. 

It had become usual among the German suite-composers 
before Bach to work out the courante on the lines of the 
allemande. This custom exactly corresponds with the fugue 
form of two or three sections, so much in favour with the 
northern organ masters, in which the same theme is worked 
out in a variety of ways. This has been fully gone into in 
speaking of Buxtehude's organ works, and the analogy 
with the suite form was then pointed out. (See Vol. I., pp. 264 
and 275.) The contrasts of rhythm between the allemande 
and the courante, and between the courante and the 
gigue, are precisely the same as those between the three 
sections of Buxtehude's great E minor fugue. It is clear 
that, with the exception of Froberger, it must have been 
chiefly the northern masters who improved and enlarged the 
suite in the second half of the seventeenth century, for they 
have stamped it with a lasting impression of their own 
specific individuality. All through Reinken's Hortus Musicus 
the courantes are nothing more than modifications of the 
allemandes which precede them, and the sarabandes, and 


even the gigues, show a plain connection with the alle- 
mandes. Walther says of the allemande : " In a musical 
partie (i.e., suite) it is, as it were, the proposition, from 
which flow forth the other movements, for instance the 
courante, the sarabande, and the gigue, like the constituent 
parts of it (partes) ." l27 Handel, too, followed this method in 
all essential particulars. The suites of the second and third 
collections of his clavier works especially show a connection 
between the allemande and the courante ; it is found, too, in 
the first collection, and in particular in the E minor suite, 
where it goes farther and is carried on into the gigue. 128 

From these circumstances, as well as from productions 
like Buxtehude's suites on the chorale " Auf meinen lieben 
Gott," 129 it is evident that the Germans first sought for 
the unity by which the different sections might be combined, 
in the use and treatment of variations. They must soon have 
become aware, however, that by this means the characteristic 
types of the dance-forms were too severely weighted, and so 
for the most part they contented themselves with treating 
the courante alone as a variation. But when once the rule 
was given up this custom might easily be abrogated. 
Sebastian Bach saw that unity could be attained by a 
scheme of internal treatment alone, since the four funda- 
mental types had been arranged in so happy an order that 
each contrasted with, and made up for, the deficiencies of the 
others. He, therefore, adhered steadily to these four types, 
and the few exceptions he allowed himself only prove the 
rule. It is not difficult to recognise even in the suite that 
far-reaching principle in art : that of the triple form. The 
allemande and the courante are closely connected even when 
their subject-matter is not the same. The allemande has 
always a medium character, being neither fast nor slow, 
neither solemn nor impassioned ; it is, as Mattheson says, 
"the picture of a contented and satisfied mind, delighting in 
order and repose." 180 It is always in common time: it con- 

127 Lexicon, p. 28. 

8 German Handel Society's Edition, Vol. II. Peters, Vol. IV., A and B. 
129 See my edition of Buxtehude's Organ Works, Vol. II., sect, ii., No. 33. 
w Vollkomm.-Capellmeister, p. 232, s. 128 


sists of two sections, tolerably equal as to length, of from 
eight to sixteen bars each on an average, and has this 
peculiarity, that it begins with either one or three short 
notes before the bar (Bohm in one case begins with seven, 
Bach with four, semiquavers). The harmonies are broad, 
and by preference in broken chords, and the upper part has 
various figures. This character is not decided enough to 
produce the effect of contrast ; but it gains in intensity in 
the courante which follows it, which, even when not treated 
in the Italian manner, gives the effect of animation by means 
of its triple rhythm. Besides the notes before the bar at 
the beginning and the similar length of the sections 
which it has in common with the allemande its typical 
characteristics consist in certain disturbing syncopations of 
accent produced by the mixture of triple and double 
rhythm ; for the 6-4 time runs into the 3-2 time, and vice 
versa (according to rule at the end of each section). 
According to Mattheson the courante expresses " Hope," 
but this is saying too much, for a definite emotion of that 
kind is not to be attained by instrumental music ; still the 
view has some foundation. 181 Thus the allemande prepares 
the way for the courante, and both form one whole, just as 
the introductory adagio and the fugue do in the sonata. 

Then the sarabande fills the same place in the suite as 
the second adagio in the sonata, or the slow movement 
in the modern form of the sonata. Its movement is quiet 
and solemn, suggesting Spanish haughtiness, and its tone 
is grave and calm. It is in triple time, and begins, as a 
rule, with a whole bar. The accent falls by preference on 
the second beat, which is so prolonged as to include either 
half or the whole of the last beat. Its length was originally 
limited to two sections of eight bars each. This number 
was seldom exceeded in the first section, even in later times, 
but the second section was extended to twelve, sixteen, 
or even more bars, and sometimes even a third section is 

Lastly, the concluding gigue corresponds entirely to the 

181 Vollkomm.-Capellmeister, p. 231, s. 123. 


last movement of the sonata and concerto in place of which 
it was frequently employed its quick running and capering 
form, which is inconsistent with thoughtful intensity, forms 
a vivid contrast to the allemande and the courante as well 
as the sarabande. The more grave impressions produced 
by the movements that have gone before are gathered up 
into a cheerful and animated form, and the hearer goes 
away with a sensation of pleasant excitement. The rhythm 
of the gigue is chosen from the most animated kinds of 
triple time 12-8 (or common time in triplets), 6-8, and 
3-8 times are of the most frequent occurrence, but 6-4, 
q-8, 9-16, 12-16, and 24-16 are also found. It is of course 
in two sections, and its length, which cannot be well 
compared by numbering the bars because of the various 
tempi, is proportional to the rest of the dances. The 
Italian and the German modes of treatment have not, it is 
true, resulted in a complete division into two different 
types as in the case of the courante but yet its structure 
has become modified. In the former treatment it is es- 
sentially homophonous, accompanied in chords by a figured 
bass and other instruments, but in the latter it is developed 
polyphonally even to a genuine fugue. This is fresh evidence 
that the northern masters had a hand in the formation 
of the Suite. Just as in their organ fugues in several move- 
ments, the last was in 12-8 or 6-8 time, so here they 
write the concluding piece of the suite in 12-8 or 6-8 time. 
They were the first to follow the method of thematic working 
out with any great powers of invention, and it is to them 
that we owe the plan of the second section of the fugal 
gigue which has been a type and model since the end of the 
seventeenth century namely, the treatment of the theme of 
the first part in inversion in the second. 182 It is evident that 
by this means, without detracting from the cheerfulness 
of the concluding movement, a balance was struck between 
that and the gravity and importance of the other movements, 
and the suite form was consolidated, and made worthier to 
receive and utilise material from wherever it might come. 

Thus it is, for instance, throughout Reinken's Hortus Musicus. 


In Bach's clavier compositions the fugal gigue with the 
inversion in the second part is the only form employed, 
whereas Handel nearly always treats his in the Italian 
manner ; where he does not, he supports the entry of the 
theme with harmonies, and in only one instance in the 
F minor suite in the first collection of his clavier works 
does he make use of an inversion in the second section. 
The French did nothing worthy of mention towards the 
development of the gigue. 

The form was now complete in itself, and when new 
numbers were introduced as they were sure to be from the 
multiplicity of unemployed and piquant French dance types 
a suitable place was found for them between the sarabande 
and the gigue. Since the first section of the suite was 
composed of the allemande and the courante together, 
something might be inserted before the gigue without 
disturbing the balance ; nay, the greater the importance 
given to the gigue by the use of polyphony, the more would 
the need be felt of some light, short, bright intermezzo, in 
contrast to the measured gravity of the allemande, the 
passionate eagerness of the courante, and the calm dignity 
of the sarabande. So it became customary to insert one, or 
even two or three such pieces, according to circumstances ; 
the forms of the gavotte, the passepied, and the bourree were 
found ready to the composer's hands, and they ultimately 
gave rise to the scherzo and minuet of the modern 
symphony. 188 Whether the impulse to do this came 
first from the French or the Germans must be specially 
inquired into. 

In the suites of Dieupart and Grigny, which Bach copied 
out for himself, and which seem to date from the year 1700, 
a gavotte and a minuet are found inserted between each 
sarabande and gigue (Vol. I., p. 202). And in Germany, Johann 
Krieger published, in the year 1697, six Parties " consisting 

183 These inserted pieces are well called " intermezzi " by G. Nottebohm, 
who has written a series of well-considered articles on the nature of the 
suite in the " Wiener Monatsschrift fur Theater und Musik " ; Vol. for 1855, 
pp. 408-412, 457-461 ; Vol. for 1857, PP- 288-292, 341-345, 391-396. He has also 
pointed out the reciprocal internal relations of the other movements. 


of AllemandeSjCourantes, Sarabandes, Doubles (i.e., Variations 
on a dance-tune), and Gigues, besides interspersed Bounces, 
Minuets, and Gavottes." In every case the French were 
misled by their theatrical proclivities. When once the 
admission of such an intermezzo was decided upon, it could 
be more freely used, and just as in Beethoven's later and 
latest works the scherzo often comes before the adagio, 
so in Bach the sarabande is several times preceded by a 
gavotte and a passepied, or the like. 

If we now compare the form of the suite with that of 
the sonata in respect of their general value, we find that 
the comparison is not, as we should expect, so greatly 
in favour of the latter, but that they must be considered 
as of equal value. In the sonata, the inner connection is so 
close that an element of contrast has to be brought in by 
the introduction of a movement in another key ; and the 
very existence of this form depends on the adequate treat- 
ment of this contrast. The sonata proceeds with the 
inexorable precision of a causal nexus ; its very essence is 
emotion or Pathos. The suite has no internal self-con- 
tradiction to overcome ; it presents, on the level ground of 
one unchanging key, a concordant and reasonably differing 
variety ; its spirit is that of repose or Ethos. The love for 
the sonata form, which increased from Bach's time onwards, 
corresponds to the love for subjective and impassioned 
expression, and to the decided leaning towards poetry, which 
appears more prominently from this time forth in German 
instrumental music ; while in the suite a simpler and more 
purely musical view of the art is taken. Accordingly the 
materials of the sonata were invented by individual 
composers, while those of the suites had their rise in the 
natural forces of nationalities. The suite, in spite of the 
multiplicity of its movements, is simple when compared 
to the sonata ; it is a single stone cut with many facets, 
and the sonata is a ring composed of many stones. Thus 
the movements of the suite could never give rise to such 
expansions as those of the sonata ; a development corre- 
sponding to that of the sonata into the symphony was 
quite impossible. But the introduction of the minuet or 


scherzo in the same key as the first and last move- 
ments, shows that even the sonata, when the number 
of movements was increased beyond three, could not 
transgress the law of the suite, since it was that of all 
instrumental music. The relations of the movements in 
both forms are based on the catholic and inherent laws 
of art. But the more purely musical the character of 
the piece, the more freely can the question of the propriety 
of different kinds of forms and of details be decided by 
feeling. So that if it is difficult to prove the necessary 
connection of the movements in a sonata, in each particular 
case, the difficulty is much greater in the case of the suite. 
Nevertheless, the demands of art are always valid, and 
the reason why the diligent study of the masterpieces of 
this class has so great an influence in the formation of 
musical taste is because it leads, as scarcely any other 
means can, to the appreciation of the finer and more 
delicate degrees of proportion and feeling between the 
sections and the whole. 

It still remains for us to glance at the suites for violin 
and violoncello 134 in detail. The three Parties correspond 
nearly in character to the three sonatas, with which they 
were united in one work by the composer. He seems to 
employ the contrast between the two forms as a structural 
plan, for each sonata is followed by a suite. All three 
are remarkably irregular in their formation. In the B 
minor suite each movement has a variation which follows 
it like its shadow. It is very probable that the addition 
of variations in the suite was an after effect, resulting from 
the attempt to work up the dance-forms that followed the 
allemande as variations on it. At all events this method 
occurs at a very early period ; for instance, in an excellent 
suite in FJ minor by Christian Ritter (Kammerorganist 
at Dresden from 1683-1688, 135 subsequently Capellmeister 
in Sweden), in which the sarabande is followed by two 

184 B.-G., XXVII., i. 

136 Fiirstenau, Zur Geschichte der Musik am Hofe zu Dresden, I., pp. 267 
and 299. 


variations; in a Partie by Johann Ernst Pestel (b. 1659), 
where the treatment is the same ; and in the violin suites 
in Walther's Hortus chelicus (for instance, Nos. 20 and 23), 
where each dance is followed by a variation, as in Bach. 
When employed in moderation there was nothing to 
complain of in a method which impressed the import of 
a piece more plainly on the hearer, and gave it in certain 
ways a more emphatic resonance ; only the fundamental 
relations of the parts must not be disturbed by it, and 
the number of permissible variations must never exceed 
two. 186 Bach in almost every case contented himself with 
one. Since in the B minor suite he wished to avail 
himself of variations in all the sections, he could hardly 
use the gigue as the concluding movement, as it is 
ill adapted for variations. In its stead he chose the 
Bourre'e, a dance-form of light, pleasant, and somewhat 
reckless character (in common time, beginning with the 
last beat of the bar, moderately quick, and smooth in 
its style), which, however, has here an air of uncouth 
jollity, only coming back to its proper character in the 
Double. For the rest, it is wonderful how sharply denned, 
in spite of the limited means, are the individualities of the 
types ; the most difficult task was in the case of the alle- 
mande, which combines richness of harmony and polyphony 
with varied figures in the upper part. The courante in 
the French and German style is contrasted with one in the 
Italian style which follows it, as a variation, rushing by in a 
wild and irresistible manner. After this, the sarabande 
comes in heavily and proudly in three and four part harmony. 
The second suite, in D minor, has the customary four 
movements. In the quick time of the gigue no fugal style 
can be expected of course from the single instrument ; it is 
throughout in one part, but produces the effect of harmonic 

1M Joh. Jak. Walther begins his Scherzo da Violino solo which appeared in 1676 
with a regular suite in four movements, in which the allemande has no fewer than 
six variations, while the courante has only one, and the sarabande and gigue 
none at all. Since, however, the courante, the sarabande, and the gigue are 
all formed on the same subject as the allemande, it is strictly nothing but a 
continuous series of variations. 


fulness by the way in which the passages are written. This 
is followed by a chaconne. It is longer than all the rest 
of the suite put together, and must not be considered as 
the last movement of it, but as an appended piece ; the 
suite proper concludes with the gigue. The French were 
fond of introducing chaconnes, but in a somewhat different 
form from that now known to us. They were accustomed to 
treat both the chaconne and the passacaglio in clavier music 
with a much greater freedom. Either no ground theme at 
all was taken, but a number of phrases of four bars long 
and in the same rhythm in 3-4 time were put together, 
in which case the artifice consisted in making them grow 
more animated and louder (as is done in a chaconne in 
Muffat's Apparatus musico-organisticus) ; or a subject of four 
bars with a reprise was taken and repeated without 
alteration after each of a number of independent phrases, 
or couplets. Couperin and Marchand usually followed this 
method, and Muffat, in the work just mentioned gives a 
passacaglio constructed on this scheme. The form was 
closely allied to that of the rondo, and even the essential 
triple rhythm was not always adhered to by Couperin ; the 
only characteristic that is retained is the somewhat grave 
and solemn style. Bach so far adopted this rondo form that 
in several cases, and with great effect, especially in the middle 
and at the end he returns to the eight bars of the opening 
and introduces new ideas between the repetition of them, 
but in general he remains true to the fundamental working- 
out of the chief theme in the old and thoughtful way. In all 
cases his manner of treatment corresponds exactly with the 
definition given above of the passacaglio (Vol. I., p. 279); a 
free handling of the theme was necessary inasmuch as it 
had to be played solo on a violin. An analysis of the whole 
will not be unacceptable, since the notes of the themes are 
often dispersed through different octaves in the whirl of 
the figurations, so that their connection is not always easy 
to recognise. The first and principal theme is as follows 

9 6 


it is once gone through, and then comes (bar 17) : 

In the manner of a rondo, but in a new dress, the first theme 
returns once ; and the second, which soon is wrapped up in 
smooth semiquaver figures, recurs twice. The third, from 
bar 49 onwards, comes in, but never in a simple form ; 
without the ornaments it would be approximately in this 


in which it must be noticed that the skips of thirds are 
afterwards enlarged into tenths or inverted into sixths. 
This is gone through four times, then, at bar 81, the second 
returns, still with new figures, and resulting in its second 
section in a new modification of the first ; 187 this in its 
turn prepares for a fourth subject, which comes in with 
bar 97 

and is carried on to bar 121 ; then, to conclude, all four 
themes come in, combined with marvellous genius, the 
third being in this form 

alternating during four bars with rushing demi-semiquavers 
and semiquavers ; the first then recurs in a broad and 
heavy style, as at the beginning ; and lastly the second and 
fourth together for four bars, so that the former lies in the 

ls ? The meaning of this passage (bars 89 97) is not doubtful, but we do 
not get a clear idea of the first theme. It is, however, quite in accordance 
with rule that after so long a silence it should reappear once more. Men- 
delssohn and Schumann were of the same opinion, as appears from their 


upper part, and the latter in the form it took in bar 113, in 
the lowest part. In gavottes, minuets, bourrees, and in 
chaconnes, contrasting trios were in great favour ; such an 
one now makes its appearance in D major with a modifica- 
tion of the third theme, which must be reckoned as a fifth 
subject on account of its independent treatment : 

In bars 133 209 it becomes larger and freer, and at last is 
varied once only, the ground rhythm being retained ; then 
the minor mode recurs, and all five themes are gone through 
again in it : the third until bar 229, the fifth (in the form 
adopted in bar 161) combined with the second until bar 237, 
the fourth until bar 241, and again the third until 249 ; and 
at last this production, so prodigious of its kind, is crowned 
by the first theme in its original form. The hearer must 
regard this chaconne as some phenomenon of the elements, 
which transports and enraptures him with its indescribable 
majesty, and at the same time bewilders and confuses him. 
The overpowering wealth of forms pouring from a few 
and scarcely noticeable sources displays not only the most 
perfect knowledge of the technique of the violin, but also the 
most absolute mastery over an imagination the like of 
which no composer was ever endowed with. Consider that 
all this was written for a single violin ! And what scenes 
this small instrument opens to our view ! From the grave 
majesty of the opening, through the anxious restlessness of 
the second theme to the demi-semiquavers which rush up 
and down like very demons, and which are veiled by the weird 
form of the third subject from those tremulous arpeggios 
that hang almost motionless, like veiling clouds above a 
gloomy ravine, till a strong wind drives and rolls them 
together and scourges them down among the tree tops, 
which groan and toss as they whirl their leaves into the 
air to the devotional beauty of the movement in D major 
where the evening sun sets in the peaceful valley. The 
spirit of the master urges the instrument to incredible 
utterance ; at the end of the major section it sounds like 
n. H 


an organ, and sometimes a whole band of violins might 
seem to be playing. This chaconne is a triumph of spirit 
over matter such as even he never repeated in a more 
brilliant manner. There have been many attempts in later 
days to melt down the precious material for other instruments. 
Little as this is to be blamed on aesthetic considerations 
for Bach himself led the way with his own additional 
arrangements 188 yet it is certain that it needs a master 
hand to do it with success, and it was no contemptible task 
for two of the greatest musicians of modern times, Men- 
delssohn and Schumann, to make an adequate pianoforte 
accompaniment to the chaconne. The wonderful result 
shows how profound and fruitful is the original theme. 
And yet Schumann, who is known to have arranged accom- 
paniments for all six violin solos in this way, not only 
intensified the general musical import, but also shed 
a clearer light on the chaconne form by following it out 
phrase for phrase in the most exact way. The fear that 
by this means an incoherent effect might be produced is 
as unfounded as it would be were it a whole suite ; 
for it is the principle of the suite which animates the 
organism of this chaconne. In both there are movements 
and groups of movements of different characters in juxta- 
position which must be all in the same key ; in spite of all 
changes of emotion and all their passionate character, one 
ruling feature is evident to every one, the undisturbed unity 
of repose. And so the union of the chaconne with the suite 
had at last a still deeper issue ; the amalgamation of two 
equally complete forms to a more perfect whole, so as to 
give the greatest possible importance and value to the idea 
which permeates them both. 

At the beginning of the third partie, in E major, there 
stands a wonderfully fresh prelude moving in incessant semi- 
quavers, now in runs, and now in arpeggios. It was not 
unusual to begin the clavier suites with a prelude. That 

138 Thereby confuting his pupil Kirnberger's remarkable assertion that no 
other part could be added to the violin and violoncello solo without harmonic 
faults. (Kunst des reinen Satzes, I., p. 176.) 


there is here a transference of style is proved by the 
composer himself, for he subsequently arranged the move- 
ment for organ obbligato and orchestra (transposing it into 
D major), and used it as an instrumental introduction to a 
cantata written for the election of senators in i73i. 139 The 
prelude is followed neither by an allemande, a courante, nor 
a gigue ; all these forms are lacking in this suite. Bach has 
for once given the reins to his love for contrast as he has 
done nowhere else, excepting in his suites for orchestra, 
where he had historical precedent for it. Thus, there comes 
next a loure in 6-4 time, moderate a kind of gigue, but slower 
and graver. 140 Then comes a gavotte in rondo form, with its 
rollicking merriment, a genuine piece of fun in the style 
of the older Bachs. Two minuets about fill the place 
of the sarabande, the first fine and solemn, the second 
tender and delightful a charming little pair. Between these 
and the concluding gigue is inserted a bourree. This last 
partie has perhaps the same meaning with regard to the 
whole collection of the six solos as the gigue has in the 
single suite ; its bright cheerfulness almost takes away the 
impression produced by the solemn greatness of the others ; 
but the connection of the different emotions is brought 
about by the concluding allegro of the C major sonata. 

In the six compositions for violoncello alone 141 a general 
character may also be perceived, which is distinct from that 
of the works for the violin in proportion to the difference of 
the instruments in readiness of expression. The passionate 
and penetrating energy, the inner fire and warmth which 
often grew to be painful in its intensity, is here softened 
down to a quieter beauty and a generally serene grandeur, 
as was to be expected from the deeper pitch and the fuller 
tone of the instrument. In the same ratio (four to two) in 
which the minor keys preponderated in the other case, do 

189 B.-G. V., i, No. 29. The whole suite is also extant in an arrangement for 
clavier (Royal Library in Berlin), and the autograph is still existing. 

140 Mattheson (Vollkomm.-Capellmeister, p. 228, 102) says that the loures 
had a proud and inflated style ; but Bach's loures, at all events, are the very 
opposite to this. 

i P, ; S. iy. ; C, I (vol. 238a). B.-G. XXVII., i. 

H 2 


the major keys preponderate here ; while there one-half 
consisted of sonatas, here there are only suites ; and while 
there all the suites differed in form from one another, here 
they all agree entirely. Each begins with a grand prelude, 
boldly constructed out of broad arpeggios and weighty 
passages, and in the fifth suite Bach introduced in their 
place a complete overture in the French style, in which the 
adagio, with its long pedal points on C and G, has an 
imposing and glowing character. Then follow, according 
to rule, the allemande, courante and sarabande, and before 
the concluding gigue in each case there are two intermezzos 
which consist in the first two suites (in G major and D 
minor) of minuets, in the third and fourth (in C major and 
E flat major) of bourrees, and in the last two (C minor and 
D major) of gavottes. The uniformity of design in all the 
suites shows, too, that the last suite is conceived of as one 
whole with all the rest, and hence we may include it without 
further remark among the violoncello solos, although it was 
written for the viola pomposa invented by Bach. The great 
extent of tone opened up by this instrument may have been 
one reason for the remarkable and quite unique beauty of the 
work, and it is to be most deeply deplored that, with this 
viola has vanished the possibility of ever hearing this suite 
which was destined for it in its original form. 142 Since Bach 
himself devised the instrument, he must have played it 
himself, and this suite upon it : we can the more easily 
imagine this, since we are told he was a skilful player 
on the tenor. I, not being a proficient, cannot judge of the 
technical difficulties of the work, as compared with the violin 
solos, but they seem to be very considerable. At all events, 
for the violoncello he N possessed a friend in the gamba- 
player Abel, who could be at hand to give his advice on 
technical points, and for whom the suites were probably 
written. Their value is much more than this, however ; the 
decisive character of the dance-forms places them almost 

14S In the Peters' edition, superintended by Fr. Griitzmacher, and unfortunately 
much disfigured by many arbitrary additions, it is arranged for violoncello and 
transposed into G major, whereby much is of course lost. 


above the violin suites, and they show just as much in- 
exhaustible fulness of invention. In a single case in the 
C major suite the courante is evolved from the allemande ; 
this is the exception, before alluded to, to the general state- 
ment made on page 85, as to the rule of contrast in the move- 
ments. The majestic structure of the C minor courante, 
which is built on a subject rising gradually from the depths 
at intervals of a bar, and in the second part sinking down 
again in a scale passage of equal length, should be noticed as 
a remarkable point. 

The way in which Bach treated the violin and violoncello 
as solitary instruments was of course entirely altered as soon 
as, by the introduction of another and a supporting instrument, 
the duty of elucidating the harmonies no longer fell to their 
share; for indeed, although treated with the most masterly 
skill, they could never be entirely free from a certain feeling 
of constraint. The most usual combinations were those 
of one, two, or even three stringed instruments with the 
clavier, the first called a solo and the last trio, which was 
not quite a consistent name, inasmuch as in the trio the 
string bass when it was added only strengthened the bass 
of the harpsichord, while in the solo an accompanying 
harpsichord bass is taken for granted. The task of the 
accompanist was of only secondary importance ; he had only 
to put in the background before which the other parts were 
to move, and so his part was not written out in full, but the 
harmonies indicated by numerals over the bass part were 
sufficient, and had to be turned into a complete fabric of 
harmony without gaps or mistakes, on the spur of the 
moment. Bach followed this custom, although not without 
modifying it to suit his own views. An inserted part in 
mere progression of chords, and without intrinsic importance, 
was little in accordance with his artistic soul, which always 
strove after organic unity. The Basso continue, from the 
beginning of the seventeenth century, when an Italian, 
Ludovico Viadana, first employed it in vocal works for one or 
more voices, until Bach's period, had exercised an universal 
influence in all branches of the art since there was scarcely 
one worth mentioning that is altogether without it ; with 


its assistance all the component parts of the music could be 
grasped with freedom and certainty, a result which, without 
its aid, could scarcely have been obtained at all, and 
certainly not in so wonderfully short a time. But the chief 
object was now either to free itself entirely from this 
support, or else to cause it to strike root and become alive, 
so that the branches might embrace and grow together into 
one organism. The whole development of art was directed 
towards the latter course. Bach transferred the polyphonic 
style of the clavier into this sphere of art also, and thus his 
mode of writing for instruments supported by the harpsichord 
though less strange than that of the solo compositions just 
mentioned, is not exclusively formed on the inherent nature 
of those instruments, but upon the character of Bach's 
polyphony, which had already attained its full growth and 
took its rise from the organ. 

It is of importance to make as clear as possible Bach's 
fundamental principles with regard to the performance of 
accompaniments, for this, the highest attainment in the art 
of that time, has now quite died out, and yet an essential 
part of the possibility of making Bach's works accessible in 
our time rests on its due reawakening. Before all else we 
are speaking now only of chamber music two different 
cases must be clearly distinguished. Disregarding the 
custom of the time, Bach in his most important works treats 
the clavier as an obbligato instrument. These works are 
almost entirely in strict trio form, really in three-part writing, 
in which the clavier takes two parts, and a violin, viol da 
gamba or flute the third ; there is one largo in quartet 
form in which the clavier takes three parts. The background 
of harmony is almost entirely dispensed with. Only when, 
at the opening of a movement, or of a new working out in a 
movement, the theme is first given out by the chief instrument 
over a supporting bass, full chords must be struck in order to 
give especial distinctness and emphasis. Bach, who was 
generally most particular about writing out his works with 
the figured bass, and indeed had the more reason to be so 
the more his practice departed, as is here the case, from 
custom clears up all doubts in this respect by his own hand- 


writing. Besides there are a few scattered passages, in which 
the part for the chief instrument is written over a simple 
harpsichord bass and nothing more, where light supple- 
mentary chords should be inserted ; this is indicated by 
figures or else by a written direction and may be regarded 
as an exception. In general, however, any completion of 
the harmony would not only be superfluous by reason of 
the wonderfully animated and perfected three-part writing, 
but would also be impossible to insert without ruining the 
beauty of the outlines. Whenever a part is added for fulness, 
not counting one separate full chord as such, it is done in a 
perfectly organic way, and is indicated not only in the part 
for the clavier, but in that for the violin. Whenever a 
movement is not in three parts only, from the first note to 
the last, it is to be ascribed to the freedom of chamber- 
music style, and to the dry, ineffective tone of the 
harpsichord. This was Bach's ideal ; we see it plainly in 
the six great organ sonatas for two manuals and pedals, 
which remain to be noticed later on, and which agree in 
form with most of the chamber trios ; we have already seen 
it in the three-part clavier sinfonias which we spoke of as 
unique in their kind, and the accompanied violin sonata is 
also idealised by Bach in such a manner as to admit of no 
comparison with any, even the best, of his contemporaries. 143 
But compositions are not lacking in which, according 
to universal custom, the harpsichord has to accompany 
from a figured bass. Even at the end of the seven- 
teenth century a three-part accompaniment was often con- 
sidered sufficient, but in the following period the four-part 
accompaniment became universal, and, if desired, the parts 
might be doubled to help out the poverty of the harpsi- 
chord. 144 That Bach also was fond of accompanying with 
full parts we know for certain from several of his scholars. 
This of course means not a continuous treatment in four or 
more parts, but an accompaniment varied in fulness accord- 

148 See Appendix A, No. 5. 

144 Heinichen, Der Generalbass in der Composition. Dresden, 1728, pp. 131 
and 132. 


ing to the circumstances, since it is the part of a good 
accompanist to accommodate himself at every moment to 
the form and expression of the particular work. 145 Johann 
Christian Kittel, one of the last of Bach's scholars (b. 1732), 
gives an interesting account of how he used to go to the 
rehearsals of a cantata under the master's direction in 
Leipzig. " One of his most proficient pupils had to accom- 
pany on the harpsichord. It may be imagined that he 
could not venture on playing too meagre an accompani- 
ment from the figured bass. Notwithstanding, he had 
always to be prepared to find Bach's hands and fingers 
suddenly coming in under his own, and without troubling 
him any farther, the accompaniment completed with masses 
of harmony, which amazed him even more than the un- 
expected proximity of his strict master." 146 Here the talent 
for improvisations, which Bach possessed in so remarkable a 
degree (see p. 27), found its right place. But it had most 
opportunity for its display in a solo. " Whoever," says his 
Leipzig friend, Mizler, "wants to hear true delicacy in 
figured bass playing, and what is called really good accom- 
panying, need only trouble himself to hear our Capellmeister 
Bach, for he accompanies a given figured bass in such 
a manner for a solo, that one would think it was a concerto, 
and that the melody he is making with his right hand had 
been composed before." 147 It must not, however, be under- 
stood from this, as will be shown in another place, that 
Bach always accompanied in polyphony ex tempore. In 
a minuet in a sonata in C major for the flute, 148 Bach's 
own accompaniment is extant, fully written out, and really 
makes an independent piece of itself. It is, in accordance 
with the tender character of the minuet, chiefly in three 

145 Quantz, Versuch einer Auweisung, &c., p. 223 : " The general rule as to a 
figured bass is to play always in four parts. If you want to accompany really 
well, however, it often has a better effect not to keep too strictly to this." 

146 Johann Christian Kittel. Der angehende praktische Organist. Section 3. 
Erfurt, 1808, p. 33. 

"T Musikalische Bibliothek, Pt. IV. Leipzig, 1738, p. 48. This is confirmed 
to Heinichen. Op. cit. p. 547 f. 
148 P., S. III. C. 6, No. 4. (vol. 235). 


parts. The upper part goes smoothly on in graceful quavers, 
always emphasising the chief progressions of the melody, and 
now soaring above it and now going below with great 
freedom. We must imagine that Bach, when accompanying, 
often gave the reins to his talent for improvisation, and 
adorned the accompaniment in a wonderfully charming 
way, with freely inverted counter-melodies. We cannot 
but lament that this charm was utterly and irrecoverably 
lost when the master died ; and yet, if he had considered 
this kind of accompaniment essential to the full effect, he 
would assuredly have fixed it in all his works by an obbligato 
clavier part. But he allowed them to be spread among the 
people by his pupils with only a figured bass, so that he 
must have supposed that he had indicated all that a 
discerning player would need, and we may hope that an 
accompaniment of quite simple form would not be contrary 
to his intentions. 

The fuller the writing, the less room was there left for 
free improvisation. It must be plain from the art with 
which Bach treated three-part writing, and the pleasure 
he took in it, that nothing was left to be desired in the way 
of fulness, even in the trio with figured bass. And, by a 
happy circumstance, an irrefragable testimony offers itself to 
this point. A trio for two flutes and harpsichord was after- 
wards changed by the composer into a sonata for the viol 
da gamba with obbligato accompaniment for the clavier. 149 
The autograph of both is in existence. In the first shape 
the bass part is carefully figured, but in the second there is 
not the least sign of any figuring. This shows that in the 
first case the accompaniment cannot possibly have been 
very independent, and that its aim was not so much to 
produce fulness of harmony as to amalgamate the differing 
qualities of tone. If the harpsichord was entrusted with 
the bass alone, a certain medium must be interposed 
between its dry short tone and the liquid fulness of that of 
the flute or, in other cases, the flexible and pathetic tones of 
the violin ; this was not necessary when the harpsichord took 

B.-G. IX., pp. 175 ff, and 260 ff. 


parts and thus came into the same register as the other 
instrument. The accompaniment in four parts is arranged by 
one of the master's best pupils, Johann Philipp Kirnberger, 
who did the same thing in a trio-sonata of Bach's, and declared 
plainly that it was by Bach's desire. 150 This style of accom- 
paniment always follows the progression of the parts that 
are written down, doubling them with the addition of a 
fourth part, or it repeats their harmonies in another position, 
but in accordance with the rule that the hands should not be 
too widely separated in accompanying; 151 there is nowhere 
a trace of any arbitrary or independent additions. Bach 
himself may often have proceeded differently. He some- 
times would exercise his harmonic genius, when a trio was 
put before him, in extemporising a real fourth part in 
addition to the other three ; and what he did with the 
works of others he may well have done with his own. 

But these were probably the effects of a happy fancy, or 
of a joyful sense of power, just as he would play off a 
complete trio or quartet from nothing but the mere bass 
part, or read an unknown work from the separate parts 
placed side by side. 152 As a rule the simple supporting 
four-part accompaniment remained in vogue. The character 
of the harpsichord tone prevented the outlines of the principal 
parts from being entangled or obliterated. To this purpose 
the modern pianoforte is much less adapted, and demands 
double care and discretion. 

Now in concertos and orchestral suites the accompaniment 
throughout follows the harmonic changes of the parts which 

160 Namely, to the one in the " Musikalische Opfer" for flute, violin, and 
clavier, in P., S. III., C. 8, No. 3 (vol. 219). The accompaniment to the third 
movement is also quoted by Kirnberger in his " Grundsatzen des Geperalbasses," 
who says of it : " Lastly, as an overwhelming testimony for the necessity of 
knowledge as to the different kinds of figured basses, I have added (fig. LI.) 
an example from a trio by John Sebastian Bach, which although it is only a 
trio must notwithstanding be accompanied in four parts ; and this may serve 
to confute the common opinion, as also may the case of trios, sonatas, &c., 
for a ' concerto ' part with bass ; likewise cantatas that are only accompanied 
on the clavier should not be accompanied in four parts, 1 ' 

161 Quantz. op. cit., p. 233. 
1M Forkel, pp. 16 and 17. 


are written out, so that it is of necessity simple. Passing 
and non-essential notes are generally omitted, and the 
accompaniment is played in the middle range of notes, so 
that the accompanist's only task is to represent just the 
germ from which the harmony springs. In fugal passages 
it used to be the custom in time past, when counterpoint 
was very much simpler, to indicate whatever part had the 
theme in written notes above the figured bass, and there 
still exist two fugues for clavier by Bach himself, which, with 
the help of figuring, are written on a single stave, but then 
they are of a very simple construction as compared with his 
others. 153 

In other cases in fugues he used to express all that he 
wanted in the accompaniment by means of figures, with such 
wonderful clearness that even at the present day any 
musician moderately skilled in the rules of playing from 
figured bass could, without much trouble, produce a good 
and flowing accompaniment from it ; and at that time an 
accompanist who was accustomed to Bach's style of 
writing could easily perform the task without a mistake. 
His mode of writing was indeed, in many points, exceptional, 
and adapted to his own style ; he required his pupils to 
learn to read it aright, just as they would the ordinary 
notation. His system was such as to exclude all doubt as 
to the proper harmonies to be added in the case of those 
sustained basses which so often occur in his works ; he 
always wrote out the figures representing the desired chord, 
reckoning upwards from the first bass-note of the group, 
whether it were a dissonance or not ; the harmony was 
sustained until the next figure, or until it was clear that it 

163 P., S. I., C. 4, Nos. 7 and 8 (apparently not in English edition). In the 
royal library at Berlin there is a book with the title, Praeludia et Fugen \ del 
signor \ Johann Sebastian \ Bach \ Possessor \ A. W. Langloz \ Anno 1763. | 
It contains 62 preludes and fugues, in every case on a single stave with figuring. 
There is no single fugue theme which can be recognised as like anything of 
Bach's elsewhere, and the composition is so poor that I do not believe it to be 
by him. Possibly they were pieces for practising figured bass playing, collected 
by a pupil of Bach's, and transcribed by the said Langloz. As to this old 
manner of writing out fugues in the figured bass part, compare Niedt. Musikal- 
Handleitung, I., Hamburg, 1710, sheet E. 


had to be resolved into a triad. 154 In the case of Bach's 
concertos for clavier and orchestra it is worth remarking 
that the figured bass accompaniment is to be played on a 
second harpsichord, so that the first may come out promi- 
nently as the solo instrument. 155 In the vocal chamber 
music, in the ritornels of the airs sung to the harpsichord 
alone, a special demand is made on the accompanist, for a 
whole phrase has to be treated melodically and perfectly 
finished off. In a general way the material can be borrowed 
from the vocal melody which follows or precedes ; but some- 
times this melody lies in the bass part itself, and in such 
cases the task is to produce in the upper parts a correct and 
flowing counterpoint. 

It follows from all this that Bach, in the obbligato 
treatment of the clavier in free accompaniment, left out 
nothing whatever except in a few quite distinct cases ; 
that in performing an accompaniment from figured bass 
he delighted in indulging his talent for improvisation and 
playing in this way against a solo instrument or voice, 
except in the case of trios or pieces of rich texture ; and that 
wherever he wrote a mere figured bass a correct accom- 
paniment in four parts was all that he required. In his 
writing in three or more parts, his harmonies do not stand 
in need of any amplification, and the harpsichord is only 
brought in for the sake of blending the differences in qualities 
of tone. But its importance is in no way lessened by 
this. Although almost withdrawn from sight, it exercises a 
powerful influence in settling the artistic form, since the 
solo instruments are assimilated to it and not contrasted 
with it. It is the hidden root by which nourishment is 
supplied to the tree. This root, however, derived its 
nourishment from the organ. This accounts for the some- 
what foreign effect which strikes us even in this chamber 
music, for a peculiar quality, which was common to the 
organ and the harpsichord, is lacking in the piano, our 

164 Kirnberger, op. cit., p. 87. 

155 \v. Rust was the first to remark this, in B -G. IX., p. xvii. Compare B.-G. 
VII., p. xv. 


modern substitute; a certain amount of habit, however, 
overcomes this feeling. The place of the harpsichord, 
thus influenced by the organ, in chamber music is exactly 
the same as that of the organ itself in church music, 
and all that was said about the place of that instrument 
in accompanying applies here equally well and uncon- 

We have already shown, in an earlier part of the work, 
that the style of Bach's church music, with all its indi- 
vidualities, resulted from organ music. In order to keep 
this point always in view, it is necessary to bear in mind 
continually the power which this instrument possesses 
of governing and uniting different heterogeneous elements, 
and the fact that by its aid alone could true church music 
be produced. An important, though obvious, testimony to 
this is that although, under Italian influence, an attempt 
was made to introduce harpsichords into the churches, 
yet Bach invariably used the organ for accompanying from 
figured bass. Remove the organ, and the soul has gone : 
only a machine remains. Distinct evidence that this was 
Bach's view is provided by five movements from his church 
cantatas, arranged by himself for the organ alone, three of 
which are in three parts, and two in four parts; in the 
cantatas, where they are set for voices and instruments 
over a figured bass, these have an accompaniment in figured 
bass, while, as organ pieces, they are quite independent 
of it. 156 Of course the nature of the accompaniment was 
changed to suit the character of the instrument, the strict 
four-parts were more strongly insisted on, and the full 
chords used on the harpsichord were excluded, because 
the effect could be produced by stops. But that the organ 

156 The organ chorales " Ach bleib bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ," " Meine 
Seele erhebet den Herren," " Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme," (B.-G. 
xxv., 2, Part II. P., S. V., C. 6 (Vol. 245), No. 2, and C. 7 (Vol. 246), 
Nos. 42 and 57, were published with three others, arranged by the composer 
himself, by G. Schubler at Zell ; they are taken from the cantatas " Bleib bei 
uns, denn es will Abend werden " (B.-G., I., No. 6. P. Vol. 1015), " Meine 
Seele erhebet den Herren " (B.-G., I., No. 10. P. Vol. 1278), and " Wachet auf, 
ruft uns die Stimme" (Winterfeld, Evang. Kischeng, III. Supplement p. 172). 


took so important a part as to be entrusted with the special 
and essential part of every piece, and that, consequently, 
all Bach's church music, in the form in which it has come 
down to us, consists of mere sketches, is by no means proved. 
It was enough for the organ to define the general expression ; 
as an instrument participating in the effect, it was quite 
in a secondary position, the chief parts alone being written 
down in notes. 157 

Of the sonatas for violin with clavier obbligato six were 
again united by Bach into a whole set. The year of their 
composition cannot be ascertained with any certainty, but 
there is a very credible tradition to the effect that they were 
written at Cothen. 158 So, probably, were three sonatas for 
viol da gamba and clavier, and three for flute and clavier. 
A comparison of these three collective works shows with 
wonderful clearness how much attention Bach paid to 
the nature of the instruments ; for although he did not 
directly form these works from the idea of a violin, a gamba, 
or a flute, yet, putting aside for a moment the general style 
which all these works have in common, the character of 
each of these instruments really is reflected in a clear and 
distinct manner in the compositions designed for them. 
The violin sonatas are throughout pervaded with that feeling 
of manly vigour which, although capable of the most 
various shades of expression, is the true characteristic of the 
violin. To this feature, which they have in common, must 
be added agreement in form ; this, with the single exception 
of the last sonata, is the four-part structure with which we 
are already acquainted. The description of the several 
forms given us in the solo sonatas is here insufficient ; it 
was not for nothing that Bach transferred the violin sonata 
to a sphere especially his own. In parts he enlarged the 
structure of the separate movements to such bold proportions 
that he seems to bridge over a whole century, and approaches 
nearly to the fully perfected forms of the Beethoven sonata. 

a See Appendix A, No. 6. 

168 Forkel, p. 57, asserts it quite decisively, so that it must have emanated 
from Bach's son. 


The chief advance is the employment of the Italian aria-form 
and the genius with which it is united with the fugal style of 
chamber music ; by this means the triple form is seen as 
distinctly or even more distinctly than in the Beethoven 
sonata form, and the proportion of the sections to each 
other is the same, so that the third repeats the first, and the 
second works up for the most part the material thus supplied; 
the only difference consists in the fact that the modern 
sonata is built on the song or dance form in two sections 
(Lied-form), while the older is developed from the fugue, 
and accordingly in the former homophony, and in the latter 
polyphony with its auxiliaries predominates. It has already 
been said that the contrasting relations of the movements 
of the older sonata, if the first adagio is regarded as an 
introductory movement, are not very different from those 
of the modern sonata. In these, and for the most part 
in Bach, the first allegro dispenses with the strict and typical 
organism in three sections ; in the last allegro he was 
accustomed to employ the dance-form in two sections, which 
was in general use at the time, combining the fugal form 
with it in no less remarkable a way. That he did not go on 
from this point to the perfect Beethoven form in three 
sections was because the development of his style was too 
much fettered by the form in two sections. In the extended 
and amplified form, afterwards employed by Philipp Emanuel 
Bach, and generally, too, in the clavier sonatas of Haydn and 
Mozart, it had been long known to him, as is shown by the 
Invention in E major ; the solo movement for harpsichord 
in E minor from the last violin sonata, is also a perfect 
model of this type. As a rule no new instrumental forms 
were created after Bach's time ; those which occur are only 
modifications of those existing before, and worked out by 
Bach ; and all the varieties which they took in the following 
century put together do not nearly amount to the number 
of the forms which he alone brought to perfection. 

The six violin sonatas are in B minor, A major, E major, 
C minor, F minor, and G major, 159 and in spite of their 

159 B.-G., IX., pp. 69-172, P., S. III., C. 5 (Vols. 232 and 233). 


general unity of design show a marvellous variety. The first 
opens with an adagio in 6-4 time, of which both the melody and 
the harmony are equally broad and beautiful. Notwith- 
standing its introductory character, its form is complete, 
for, in the first place, a distinct bass subject and a fluctuating 
quaver figure are retained through the whole piece, and, 
secondly, the phrase which appears in the dominant in bars 
13 to 20 recurs in the tonic in bars 24 to 31, after which in 
the last passages reference is made to the beginning of the 
movement, so that the two chief divisions have two sub- 
divisions each, which correspond in an inverted order: 

(A B~D a). 

This is followed by a bold fugal allegro in aria form 
with three sections ; in the second section (bars 41-101) 
Bach displays his wonderful power which he got from the 
northern school of episodical development, which is applied 
to the theme that was strictly worked out in the first section ; 
the third is an unaltered repetition of the first. At the 
beginning of these fugal sections the theme is never brought 
in without a supporting bass ; this license came from the 
Italian chamber music style, and first occurs in Bach in the 
clavier sinfonias. Now comes the second, the real adagio, 
which is here, however, an andante in D major, a piece of 
wondrous beauty, wrought as if with wreaths of flowers, and 
an organism as perfect in construction as any even of 
Beethoven's adagios ; attention should be paid to the fine 
artistic feeling with which the tender and expressive sub- 
sidiary theme appears in the sub-dominant after the return 
of the chief subject (bars 22 ff.). The finale is a move- 
ment in two sections with repeats, in fugal form, but of 
such a kind that the theme is always brought in with two- 
part counterpoint ; its character is martial and defiant ; 
observe, besides the splendid theme, the sudden change to 
the dominant at the close of the first section, and the 
bold introduction of the chord of the sixth of C major 
just before the end. 

The second sonata, now the best known of all the six, 


begins with a movement in 6-8 time, very tenderly de- 
veloped from a theme of one bar in length, and afterwards 
(from the eighth bar) combined with a whispering subject in 
semiquavers. In marked contrast is the splendid Allegro 
assai in 3-4 time which follows. The form is the same 
as that of the first movement of the B minor sonata, the last 
section being an exact repetition of the first, while the second 
is different in structure ; for in bars 30 33 a new subject is 
introduced which alternates with the chief theme, so that 
a working-out in the style of the concerto before described 
is the result ; finally the new subject generates broad violin 
arpeggios, while the harpsichord works out the chief theme 
episodically, supported by a splendid pedal point of nineteen 
bars, and then the third section is brought in. As to the 
well known canon in F sharp minor, with its deep thought- 
fulness and melodic beauty, it need only be said that its two 
chief sections correspond to one another in a reversed form 
like those of the first movement of the B minor sonata : 
the first period, consisting of four phrases, leads into C sharp 
minor and begins anew from that key, but by the insertion 
of a middle section and by repeating the second phrase it 
returns to F sharp minor; for the end the expressive and 
melancholy notes of the opening are heard again like 
the echo of a vanished past, and the way is prepared by a 
half close for the last Presto. This is in two sections, and 
fugal, but the second section prefers to work out a theme of 
its own, and never takes up the first theme until the end, 
when it is brought in in playful strettos. 

In the first movement of the third sonata the violin 
wanders freely and melodiously over a subject in the accom- 
paniment, worked out in the usual way ; the second agrees 
in form with the corresponding movement of the A major 
sonata, except that the repetition of the third division is 
abridged. The third movement is an adagio in C sharp 
minor full of the most touching expression. It is a chaconne 
of which the bass subject is repeated fifteen times, and 
besides this Bach has worked out an independent theme in 
the upper parts ; it is in the same form as the canon in F 
sharp minor but of grander dimensions. The last move 



ment is in three sections instead of two, and the second is, 
as before, in concerto form, and each part is repeated. 

At the outset of the fourth sonata, instead of a largo, we 
meet with a Siciliano full of grief and lamentation, the begin- 
ning of which is almost identical with that of the celebrated 
air in B minor from the Matthew-Passion, " Erbarme dich, 
mein Gott " " Have mercy upon me, O God." An un- 
usually bold and important allegro snatches us from this 
melancholy mood ; it is the richest and broadest movement 
of the kind in the whole set of sonatas. This great wealth 
of ideas resolves itself into four sections, a comprehensive 
epilogue (bars 89 109) being added on after the third (bars 
55 89)> which does not consist of mere repetition, but is 
treated with great freedom, and affords more opportunity than 
the second section (bars 34 55) for interesting developments 
of episodes. The adagio, in E flat major, goes by in a lovely 
restful way, calm and gentle as a summer evening; the 
violin has the melody, accompanied by simple triplets, and 
now and again breaks off to listen, as it were, to the echo of 
its tones, and the parts are first united in a full stream of 
emotion quite at the end. An allegro in two sections, full of 
Bach's delight in his work, forms the final movement; in this 
also the second section has a characteristic fugal treatment. 

The fifth sonata is introduced by a largo, the only one in 
which four real parts are employed. Besides being especially 
distinguished by this fact, it is also one of the most powerful 
pieces in the collection, and of Bach's chamber music 
altogether. The three-part clavier part is so independent 
that almost the whole of it might be played alone ; the 
violin has now passages of broken arpeggios, and now an 
apparently unending flow of broadly treated melody in 3-2 
time. And the violin is far from bringing a foreign element 
into the organism ; it rather raises it to a higher level ; it 
does not cripple the effects but gives them a loftier and more 
general tendency as if carrying out in music some eternal 
law of nature. Its hundred and eight bars fall naturally 
into four sharply defined sections, the first of which closes 
in the relative major (bar 37) ; the second, extended by 
imitation and by episodes, gets into C minor (bar 59) ; the 


third refers "tack at this point to the first section, still in 
this key, but only by way of reminding us of it ; it then 
diverges again, and only gets back to the original key at 
bar 88 ; in the fourth section there is a real repetition, 
which combines the beginning and end of the first section 
together in a concentrated form. The theme on which 
the clavier part is exclusively formed 



occurs again, hardly altered, in an eight-part motett, " Komm, 
Jesu, komm, gieb Trost mir Miiden, Das Ziel ist nah, die Kraft 
ist klein," 160 and the sentiment of the two works is very 
similar. The movement is imbued with a desire, not agitated, 
but of inexpressible intensity, for redemption and peace, and 
spreads its wings at last with such a mighty span that 
it seems as though it would throw off every earthly tie. 
Some passages (such as bar 90 ff) sank deep into the 
sensitive mind of Schumann, there to put forth new 
blossoms like the andante of his quartet for piano 
and strings. The allegro movements follow in inverted 
order, the one in two sections being the second move- 
ment, and that in three the fourth; between them there 
is an adagio in C minor, formed on the same plan as 
those dreamy clavier preludes whose development is only 
harmonic ; the violin has two-part harmony in slow quaver 
movement, which derives a greater fulness from arpeggio 
semiquavers, alternating between both hands in the accom- 
paniment. 161 

The last sonata as has been said, differs essentially in its 
general plan. First of all there are five movements, three 
slow movements being as it were enclosed by two in quick 
time, the first allegro being repeated at the end. There is 
no second example of such an extension of form in Bach's 

160 Motetten, von Johann Sebastian Bach, Leipzig. Breitkopfund H artel, 
No. 4. 

161 Bach subsequently replaced these by groups of demi-semiquavers ; th 
earliest form is giren in B.-G. IX., p. 250 f. 

I 2 


works, and it is doubly surprising in a composition which 
was designed to be united into one work with five others, 
all agreeing among themselves in form. It can hardly have 
been on artistic grounds that such an irregularity is found in 
this particular place. I am inclined rather to ascribe it to 
some personal motive arising from some incident in his life, 
for the investigation of which no means are, however, at 
hand. For the rest the form is ruled by the highest artistic 
intelligence ; the third movement, judging by its importance, 
is to be regarded as the germ of the organism ; it is CantabiU, 
ma un pooo Adagio, and around it the two other adagio 
movements in E minor and B minor, and outside them again 
the allegros complete the harmony of the grouping. They 
are written with a creative power all his own, and with 
evident inspiration. In the first movement, which is in 
three sections, passages of demi-semiquavers glide busily 
and unceasingly up and down, enticing or mocking cries are 
heard here and there; it is as though we were looking at a 
merry, busy throng of people. The grave second movement, 
largo, as well as the fourth, adagio, with its passionate 
longing, are wisely made quite short, so as not to crowd too 
closely upon the heart of the whole work. This is a fully 
developed and extended piece in 6-8 time and in three 
sections, remarkable for a singularly bridal feeling : it is 
marked by a sweet fragrance and a breath of lovely yearning 
such as are seldom found in Bach. The lengthy super- 
scription which Bach was wont to disdain as a rule is 
remarkable ; and there is developed in the two upper parts 
a kind of loving intercourse, a dialogue as from mouth to 
mouth, carried on above a bass which has nothing to do 
but to support the harmony. All these are quite at variance 
with the style of Bach's trios in other places ; and what is 
just as unique is that all three parts do not conclude at the 
same time : the clavier melody ceases twelve bars before the 
end, while the violin repeats the whole of the opening phrase 
of the melody, supported by the bass. For justification of 
the epithet " bridal " it may serve to refer to certain arias in 
Bach's wedding music, particularly the one in A major which 
was afterwards rearranged for the Whitsuntide cantata, 


" O ewiges Feuer, o Ursprung der Liebe," 162 and also to the 
aria in G major from the cantata, " Dem Gerechten muss das 
Licht immer wieder aufgehen." 163 It need hardly be said that 
I have no idea of drawing conclusions from the creation of 
this adagio as to events in Bach's life which may have given 
rise to it. But circumstances of a personal and intimate kind 
certainly influenced him ; this is clear from the fact that in 
later life, dissatisfied with the whole form of the sonata, he 
altered its shape twice, the last time quite in the decline of 
life, and that neither of these alterations pleased him ; and 
it is well known that any especially subjective productions 
become more and more difficult to alter as life goes on. I, 
at least, cannot see that these alterations in the first two 
dance-forms designed for a clavier Partita are inserted, 
while in the second, against all precedent, a sonata move- 
ment in two sections for harpsichord alone is made the 
third movement, and followed by two entirely new con- 
cluding movements have in any way improved the form, 
beautiful as the three last mentioned movements are in 
themselves. The central point, the G major adagio, is 
omitted in both cases, perhaps because its personal element 
no longer pleased the mighty spirit of its creator as time 
went on ; but the whole structure was endangered by its 
removal. 164 

The viol da gamba was an instrument with five strings 
or even more, somewhat like Bach's viola pomposa in 
compass, the lowest string giving D and the highest a ; but 
it differed essentially from that in being tuned by fourths 
and thirds, and also in being held between the knees, 
like the violoncello. It afforded a great variety in the 
production of tone, but its fundamental character was 
tender and expressive rather than full and vigorous. Thus 

I CT B.-G. VII., p. 146 ff. P., vol. 129. 
* B.-G. XIII., i., p. 34 ff. 

164 As to the relations of the different attempted recensions, the last of which 
is given in the Bach Society's edition, compare the caretul discussion by W. Rust 
in the preface to Vol. IX., p. XX f. The differences in the first recension are 
there given in an appendix, p. 252 ff. 


Bach could rearrange a trio originally written for two flutes 
and bass, for viol da gamba, with harpsichord obbligato, 
without destroying its dominant character. 166 This sonata 
in four movements in G major is the loveliest, the 
purest idyl conceivable. In the romantic andante alone 
(in E minor) is there a gentle yet awful whispering and 
fluttering, as of leaves softly moved at night, and a ghostlike 
murmur runs over the still depths (represented in a mar- 
vellous manner by an e sustained for four bars on the viol da 
gamba). With this exception all is happy, bright with 
sunshine in a blue sky. In the last movement, a fugue of 
that mingled strength and grace that is so typical of Bach, 
there are introduced, between the separate groups in the 
working-out, light and charmingly worked episodes on the 
Corelli model, after each of which the unexpected and yet 
natural entry of the theme has a delightful effect. This 
sonata was not united with the two others into a collective 
work by the composer, who, as it appears, did not intend to 
do so, since the very carefully written autographs of two of 
them still exist. 

The second sonata (in D major) is somewhat inferior to 
the others in merit and, moreover, is not free from a certain 
stiffness in the first allegro. 166 

The third, on the contrary (in G minor), is a work of the 
highest beauty and the most striking originality. 167 It has 
only three movements, like a concerto, and the concerto 
form has had a very important share in the construction 
of the allegros. The first allegro begins, indeed, in 
the manner of a sonata, but the long and prolific theme 
attains a freer development. No fugal working-out in the 
dominant follows, but a repetition, more richly ornamented, 
in the tonic, and then episodical work until the end of the 
first section (bar 25). Part of the principal subject fugally 
treated and answered, serves to bring in the second sec- 

iw B.-G. IX., p. 175 ff (in its older form at p. 260 ff ). P., S. IV., C. 2, No. I 
(vol. 239). 

" B.-G. IX., p. 189 ff. P., S. IV. C. 2 (vol. 239), No. 2. 
w B.-G. IX., p. 203 ff. P., S. IV. C. 2 (vol. 239), No. 3. 


tion, and soon is followed by a new tributary of half a bar 
in length : 

We must notice, too, the passage of four bars which comes 
in at bar 53 

this, with the chief subject, constitutes the whole material 
from which the movement is developed, quite in the style of 
a concerto. After this there is no need of a third section : 
the movement goes its restless way, unceasingly renewing 
itself from within. If we are forced to marvel at the 
absolutely inexhaustible wealth of fancy in almost every 
new work of Bach's, this especially shows how Bach's style, 
in spite of its polyphonic nature, was capable of assuming a 
characteristic picturesqueness of the most marked kind. 
Here we have a composition in Magyar style: a rushing 
as of wild and fiery steeds across an open space; the 
impetuous tributary themes sound like strokes of a whip ; 
now the figures fall confusedly into the discord of the 
diminished seventh, resolved by means of a bright shake 
in the upper part; and now they unite in the chief subject 
in heavy unison an effect so seldom found in this master 
beneath its tread the very earth groans. The irresistible swing 
which keeps up the movement and action by new and un- 
expected impulses is almost the same as that which we 
admire in Weber's overtures. How much Bach himself 
was carried away by it is seen both in the frequent unisons 
in bar 64, where the chief theme suddenly appears in three 
parts on the clavier, the harmony thus becoming fourfold ; 
and then the magnificent end (from bar 95 onwards), where 
the whole array of notes rushes tumultuously from one 
diminished seventh to another. In this movement no use 
is made of the tender character of the viol da gamba, but 
only of its wide compass and its flexibility. A lovely 


adagio in B flat major (3-2 time) satisfies our desire for 
melody with a devotional and earnest strain, of which the 
beginning is a clear foreshadowing of Beethoven. In the 
last allegro there seems to be an inexhaustible fund of the 
loveliest melodies : the most extraordinary number of subjects 
is produced out of materials already given out, in the manner 
which we now call the art of thematic working. We have 
all along used the expression " episodical formation " to 
distinguish the imitative working-out of an unaltered theme 
from the alterations incident upon " thematic development." 
Except at the beginning the concerto form governs the 
whole. The theme 

is twice worked out in all the parts, and closes in B flat 
major. From the first bar is evolved a softly pulsating 
figure for the harpsichord bass, above which the viol da 
gamba gives out a new and expressive melody, while the 
right hand has broken chords in semiquavers, and then 
changes place with the viol da gamba in F major. After the 
chief theme has been once again brought in, this accom- 
panying semiquaver figure is episodically extended, and 
a new and no less charming melody appears (bars 37 55). 
Then comes a thematic and episodical working-out of the 
chief theme, and the first tributary theme is brought in, 
in D minor; with this is contrasted a third subject, and 
these two engage in a pleasing contention (bars 69 79). In 
the cadence of this phrase there comes in a fourth working- 
out of the chief theme in C minor, which leads back into 
G minor ; and at bar 90 a fourth tributary is brought in on 
the viol da gamba, accompanied in the same manner as was 
the first ; reappearing subsequently, after a fifth working-out 
of the chief theme on the clavier, at the end of the move- 
ment. Thus on the stem of the theme one flower replaces 
another in a way which is marvellous in itself, and not only 
for the time when it was written. Even in Beethoven's day, 
when, in accordance with the altered style of instrumental 
music, episodical work was much more employed than 


thematic, it would be hard to find anything of this kind 
more masterly or richer in invention. Bach held as absolute 
a sway over the art of episodical treatment as over that 
of thematic treatment ; and while his predecessors often 
preferred the former method, both alike found favour with 
him, and were used to complete and raise each other. 

The Sonatas for the flute are influenced by the form of the 
concerto both in outline and in details, and in some points 
correspond exactly with it. They are all in three movements,- 
and the E flat major sonata is a concerto from the first to 
the last bar. 168 In the first movement the form is somewhat 
timidly handled ; this sonata may have been one of the first 
attempts to construct a trio on this entirely new plan. The 
middle movement a Siciliano and the final allegro are 
quite perfect, the soft and pleasing nature of the whole 
expression agreeing admirably with the character of the flute. 
This was the emotional character that lent the works of 
Philipp Emanuel Bach and his successors their peculiar 
stamp. Joseph Haydn's clavier sonatas had their root in 
this expression, and it remained in force to Mozart's time ; 
indeed it is the distinguishing characteristic of the period. The 
height and depth, the sublimity and strength of Sebastian 
Bach's music were beyond the apprehension of the next 
generation ; still they could drink of the living fount in such a 
degree as was suited to their capacities and needs. The con- 
nection between Bach and Haydn is not indeed self-evident, 
but it nevertheless exists, and is proved by other works besides 
the E flat major sonata ; the same feeling equally pervades a 
sonata in G minor, which in its present form is intended for 
violin and harpsichord, but which was certainly meant by 
the composer for the flute ; Bach wrote it at the same time 
as the E flat major sonata, and the construction is identical 
even in the smallest particulars. 169 And among his later 

188 B.-G. IX., p. 22 ff. P., S. III. C. 6 (vols. 234235), No. a. 

189 B.-G. IX., p. 274 ff. That the sonata cannot be considered spurious as 
long as the authenticity of the E flat major sonata is undoubted is shown 
by W. Rust on p. xxv. of the same volume. Besides this, in the adagio there 
is an unmistakable resemblance to the largo of the concerto for two violins. 


works the resemblance to the works of Haydn I am speak- 
ing only of his clavier music is very prominent in the 
great organ prelude with which the third part of the 
Clavieriibung begins, 170 a sufficient evidence that this 
element of feeling was deeply rooted in Bach's inmost 

In the flute sonata in A major, 171 the first movement, which 
unfortunately is incomplete, is quite on the lines of a concerto, 
not, of course, that the clavier and flute have each a theme 
belonging to themselves alone, which they contrast with one 
another ; here, as in the E flat sonata, it is only the general 
musical principle that Bach has assimilated. The fresh 
and important finale, this time the crowning point of the 
work, is in three sections ; of these the middle one falls into 
two groups, in F sharp minor (bars 53 118) and E major 
(bars 118 209), in each of which the chief theme is 
combined with a new subject in a masterly way : a more 
ingenious and striking way of coming back to the theme than 
that employed in bars 160 166 could hardly be imagined. 

By far the best of the three, however, is the sonata 
in B minor ; the magnificent freedom and beauty of its 
form, its depth and overpowering intensity of expression, 
raise it to the position of the best sonata for the flute that 
has ever existed. There is none of equal merit in the works 
of any great master of a later time ; and so perfectly does it 
correspond to the character of the instrument, which indeed 
is soft and pleasing, but of only moderate capabilities of 
expression as compared to the violin and instruments of 
that class, that it reaches the highest level of Bach's style, 
with its calm surface and its depths of passionate intensity 
ever craving for expression. The first movement is in three 
sections and of the broadest proportions ; but the composer 
has here departed entirely from his customary method of 
treating the first and middle sections. Neither a fugal 
entrance with episodical or concerto-like working-out, nor 
a concerto form from the beginning, could fit an imaginative 

B.-G. III., p. 173 ff. P., S. V., C. 3 (vol. 242), No. i. 

B.-G. IX., p. 245 ff and 32 ff. P., S. III., C. 6 (vols. 234235), No. 3. 


work which was to flow on in unchecked expression of a 
single and deeply felt emotion like a grand elegy. So the 
master begins by forming one section from two subjects 
smoothly worked out side by side. They are not themes, but 
two melodies of imperishable beauty : the first is carried on 
for twenty bars in the most lovely way, supported by a soft 
rocking accompaniment ; the second closes in the same key 
and then goes into D major. The process of development 
consists of this whole section being repeated, first in F sharp 
minor and then again in B minor for the close ; but between 
the two last groups is brought in a passage formed of parts of 
the first and second melodies worked together (bars 61 77) 
so as to emphasise the return to the principal key. No 
one who has not seen and heard the work can form any idea 
of the genius with which Bach varies the theme. The 
development is carried on bar by bar, but is constantly 
altered in some way ornamented more richly or made 
longer, especially by means of beautiful imitations in canon, 
which are, as it were, imperceptibly generated from it by a 
natural power ; a special charm is given by reversing the 
order of several single phrases. This incomparably beautiful 
piece is closed by a wonderful little coda formed of phrases 
from the first melody (bars in 117). The fact that the 
form is built upon the Italian aria betrays itself by one 
feature at the opening ; the manner in which the melody 
begins in a kind of tentative way, breaking off after two bars 
to begin again at the fourth bar, is the same as that so 
frequently employed by Bach in the sacred arias. 172 The 
second movement in D major, largo e dolce, is simply in two 
sections with repeats, and is in all respects worthy of what 
goes before it ; in particular the painful yet sweet expression 
in the last bar but one, where the flute rises in long synco- 
pated notes on the chord of the diminished seventh, must 
appeal to every heart. The presto begins with a passionate 
and beautiful three-part fugue, but soon a pause comes on 

172 It has been already noticed (Vol. I., p. 26) that the beginning of this 
melody is identical with a fugal theme from one of Bernhard Bach's orchestral 


the dominant and, in accordance with the requirements of 
the concerto form, a gigue in Italian style (12-16 time) is 
introduced, which is quite new and yet familiar, since it 
is evolved most beautifully in Buxtehude's manner from the 
fugal theme. 

All of Bach's independent chamber trios with clavier 
obbligato which exist have now been enumerated, except 
one, which is in neither sonata nor concerto form, but 
has a certain resemblance to that of the suites. This com- 
position for violin and clavier in A major, is not a true 
suite in the strictest sense, and it is only designated as a 
" Trio." For, although it adheres to unity of key, and consists 
chiefly of dances, it is abnormal both in the number and 
order of the dances. It comprises seven sections worked 
out at some length, of which the last is an independent 
allegro in common time, while the first is a free fantasia. 178 
The work stands by itself among Bach's works, an exceptional 
production such as a master who has perfect command over 
all forms might allow himself; because it has a certain 
affinity with the independent style of the orchestral suite. 
The attempt was crowned with success ; the pieces with their 
masterly forms, though they nowhere attain grandeur, are 
models of graceful and delicate workmanship ; fresh, bright 
music, the full expression of a vigorous and healthy mind. 

Solo sonatas with harpsichord accompaniment were less 
to Bach's taste, as they were not as yet a thoroughly 
developed form of art. Only four of the kind are known, 
besides one fugue by itself. One in E minor is for violin 
and harpsichord ; a prelude of running or arpeggiato semi- 
quavers is followed by a lovely adagio, an allemande, and 
a gigue in the Italian style, on the old Corelli pattern. The 
great fugue in G minor is intended for the same instruments; 
such compositions may have served as preparations for the 
fugues in the sonatas for violin solo. 174 The other three 
sonatas are for flute and clavier. The one in C major 
has rather an old-fashioned aspect, the fourth (and last) 

"3 B.-G. IX., p. 43 ff. P., S. III., C. 7 (vols. 234236), No. I. 
* P., S. III., C. 7 (vols. 234236), Nos. 2 and 3. 


movement consisting of a couple of minuets, to the first of 
which Bach has written out the accompaniment in full. The 
others, in E minor and major respectively, are in regular 
form, but their allegros are for the most part in two sections, 
and of course no such rich display of variety is possible as 
in the sonata with harpsichord obbligato. Still, they are full 
of interest and beauty. 175 

There are also very few examples of the trio for two 
instruments and figured bass. It has already been said 
that the sonata for viol da gamba in G major originated 
in a trio of this kind for flutes. A sonata in the same 
key for flute, violin, and bass is a gem of polished and 
concise form, full of delightful beauty. 176 Another sonata 
for two violins and bass, in C major, is not quite equal to 
this in merit ; a gigue serves as the last movement, other- 
wise the forms are regular. 177 

The principle of concerto-like form which plays so im- 
portant a part in Bach's creations had hitherto been applied 
by him only to works which were not actually concertos in 
external construction. In fact, he only availed himself of 
the principle to turn it to account for his own purposes 
(Comp. Vol. I., p. 408 et seq.) ; he can hardly have written 
any true concertos before the Cothen period. In order 
to understand this point historically and fully, we must 
remember a licence of which the composers of that time 
availed themselves to a considerable extent in writing 
concertos. According to rule a tutti subject and a solo 
subject were placed side by side, and the solo instrument 
and the tutti instruments vied with each other in producing 
the greatest amount of material from their respective subjects. 
The principal key and those nearest to it were the fields 

P., S. III., C. 6 (vols. 234236), Nos. 4, 5, and 6. 

B.-G. IX., p. 221 ff. P., S. III., C. 8 (vol. 237), No. 2. The autograph 
parts, which were written in the Leipzig period, are in the possession of 
Herr J. Rietz, Capellmeister at Dresden. 

i" B.-G. IX., p. 231 ff. P., S. III., C. 8 (vol. 237), No. i. The resolution 
of the figured bass given in this and other pieces in the edition of Peters by 
Fr. Hermann is clever and very good musically, but it might be wished that 
he had kept more closely to the original figuring. See App. A., Nos. 7. 8. 


on which these contests were alternately displayed ; when 
the disputants returned to their original position the combat 
was over. According to the quality of tone of the contrasting 
instruments the one theme was heavy and firm, and the 
other light and pliable. But there were also cases in which 
one chief subject was considered sufficient. Then it was 
given out by the tutti and taken up and worked out by the 
solo instrument. When strictly carried out this plan gave 
the work a rather poor effect, but when the composer 
possessed the power of inventing and devising episodes, he 
might take a phrase of the tutti subject, and by making new 
matter out of it for the solo instrument, give the form a 
particular charm. The feeling of dramatic contest between 
two individualities was, however, much weakened by this 
method ; the form more strictly belonged to the realm of pure 
music. But it was just this which chiefly interested Bach : 
the purely musical duality, its contrasts, its combinative 
fertility, and the impulse given to episodic development by 
its antagonisms. Thus, even in the concerto-like sonatas 
for the flute, he made the themes alternate between the 
clavier and the flute on purely musical grounds. And thus 
it happens, too, in his concertos, that the tutti passage 
comprises all the material for the solo subjects. The 
effectiveness of this departure from the rule of formation 
depends on the way in which the instruments are treated. 
This is especially the case with the violin concertos. Here, 
where the solo violin is set against the string band completed 
by the harpsichord, the contrast of the two bodies of sound is 
of course natural and obvious. The class of work had a 
great interest for Bach, as will be easily understood, after his 
thorough study of the structure of Vivaldi's concertos. We 
possess three concertos in their original shape, and three 
only in a later remodelled form for clavier with instrumental 
accompaniment; out of the three original ones two have 
been treated in the same way. 178 These rearrangements 
were made in Leipzig, to judge from the nature of the 

178 P., S. Ill, C. i, 2, and 3 (vol. 229, 230, &c.). Compare the dissertation by 
W. Rust, in B.-G. XVII., p. xiii ff, and B.-G. XXL, i, p. xiii f. 


autographs ; we have no direct evidence that the originals 
are of the Cothen time, but we conclude this to be the case 
from a series of other instrumental concertos to which these, 
with their far simpler construction, form the natural stepping- 
stones ; it is also probable from the official post held by Bach 
at Cothen. Notwithstanding the lack of sterling compo- 
sitions for violin with orchestra, these concertos have hitherto 
not achieved the wide popularity which is due to their high 
musical worth ; the reason is partly to be found in the com- 
parative neglect of the simple and generally intelligible 
cantilena style since the animated harpsichord style, which 
had taken possession of the concerto-form, prefers passages 
and figurations ; and a second reason is, that the form has 
become strange to us. We can, of course, get over these 
peculiarities, and particularly the second, for the older con- 
certo form is more comprehensible than the new, which 
has more or less become merged in the modern sonata 
form. In fact, the charm of the episodical working-out is 
not less in Bach than in the best concerto composers of 
Beethoven's time. In this respect the first movement of 
the E major concerto is especially remarkable, with the 
working-out of the subject 

which Bach cast in the three- section form that we have seen 
so much of in the violin sonatas with harpsichord. In the 
second movement we have one of those free adaptations of 
well-known forms which Bach alone knew how to treat. It 
is a chaconne, such as had been already employed in the E 
major violin sonata ; but the bass theme not only wanders 
freely through different keys, but is also extended and cut up 
into portions of a bar long ; it often ceases altogether, but 
then a few notes revive the conviction that, in spite of all, 
it is the central point on which the whole piece turns. 
The middle movement of the A minor concerto has what is 
seldom found with such defmiteness in the adagios, a heavy 
tutti subject contrasted with a light figure for the solo instru- 
ment ; the organism is built on the interchange of these, 
without becoming a strict violin cantilena. The D minor 


concerto 179 is without doubt the finest of the set, and is held 
in due esteem by the musical world of the present day, 
Two solo violins are here employed, but it is not in any way 
a double concerto, for the two violins play not so much 
against one another, as both together against the whole 
band. Each is treated with the independence that is a 
matter of course in Bach's style. In the middle movement, 
a very pearl of noble and expressive meledy, the orchestra 
is used only as an accompaniment, as was usual in the 
adagios 01 concertos. 

The free and purely musical concerto form, however, 
achieved its perfect and untrammelled development in a 
collection of six concertos which was completed in March, 
1721. The occasion was a very special one. Several years 
before Bach had met, possibly at Carlsbad, a Prussian 
Prince who was a lover of art, and who delighted in his 
playing; he had desired Bach to send him some compo- 
sitions for his private band. 180 This was Christian Ludwig, 
Margraf of Brandenburg (b. May 14, 1677), the youngest son 
of the great Elector by his second wife. A sister of his was 
second wife of Duke Ernest Ludwig of Saxe Meiningen, 
with whose court Bach had been connected apparently ever 
since he had been to Weimar. The Margraf, who was at 
this time provost of the cathedral at Halberstadt and un- 
married, lived alternately at Berlin and on his estates at 
Malchow; he was especially devoted to music, over and 
above the ordinary aristocratic amateur dabbling in science 
and art, and he spent a great part of his income on music. 181 
In the spring of 1721 he was living in Berlin, and thither 
Bach must have sent these six concertos which he had finished 
as the execution of his honourable commission on the 24th 
of March. The French dedication in which he mentions the 

" 9 P., vol. 231. 

180 Bach himself specifies the space of time which had elapsed since this 
"une couple d'annees." If we take this quite literally, as is hardly necessary, 
we get the year 1719, but no journey of Duke Leopold to Carlsbad is known of 
in that year. 

181 Amounting sometimes to 48,945 thalers, but this was not always 
sufficient for him. 


occasion which gave rise to the composition may have 
been written by some courtier at Cothen. He himself was 
evidently not skilled enough in French to trust to his own 
knowledge in such a case, and the mistaken fashion of the 
time, when nothing but French was spoken or written at the 
German Courts, was in vogue here. How the offering was 
received by the Margraf is not known. His band was not 
lacking in members capable of executing these difficult works 
in a fit manner ; we know the name of one of his private 
musicians, Emmerling, and that he was distinguished as 
a composer and performer on the clavier and viol da 
gamba. 181 After the Margraf's death, which took place at 
Malchow, September 3, 1734, Bach's precious manuscript 
experienced the risk of being carelessly sold off among a lot 
of other instrumental concertos at a ridiculously low price, 
but a happy fate has preserved it to us. These works 
exhibit the highest point of development that the older form 
of the concerto could attain. 182 

Bach calls them Concerts avec plmieurs instruments. 
According to the custom of the time, this means the 
so-called Concerti Grossi, in which, instead of one single 
instrument, several (generally three) play against the tutti. 
But to this category belong only the second, fourth, and 
fifth concertos ; the common feature which unites them 
to a single unity is rather the concerto-like form which 
is here developed to the greatest musical freedom. Bach 
had for a long time been on the track of this ideal. The 
reader will remember the great instrumental introductions 

181 Walther, Lexicon. 

18a The few facts I have been able to give concerning Margraf Christian 
Ludwig are the results of my researches in the royal domestic archives at 
Berlin. The musical property, which was considerable, was catalogued and 
valued. Compared with concertos by Vivaldi, Venturini, Valentini, Brescianello, 
&c., Bach's work was not thought worthy the honour of a special mention by 
name, and so it must have been in one of the two following lots, " 77 concertos 
by different masters, and for various instruments, at 4 ggr. (altogether) 12 thlr. 
20 ggr." ; and " 100 concertos by different masters for various instruments. No. 3, 
3 16 thlr." As to the subsequent fate of the autograph, see B.-G. XIX., 
Preface. These concertos are also published with a facsimile of the 
dedication in P. S.. VI., Nos. 1-6 (Vol. 261-266). 

II. K 


to the Weimar cantatas " Uns ist ein Kind geboren," 
" Gleichwie der Regen," and " Der Himmel lacht " (Vol. I., 
pp. 487, 492, and 541). But it is not only the separate 
movements, but the whole form of many parts, that he 
set in so definite a manner on its ideal musical basis. 
Throughout his concertos the disposition into three move- 
ments is employed, which had indeed been elevated into 
a canon of art by Vivaldi's delicate instinct ; but the 
Concerto grosso was not always confined to this : ere long 
four movements or more were introduced, giving a resem- 
blance to the sonata, and even dance-forms were inter- 
mingled. But the three-movement form was amply sufficient 
for the materials which were to be displayed in the concerto : 
for the grave and exciting strife between the bold and active 
solo instruments and the strong and mighty tutti ; for the 
broad cantilena, with its ingenious and beautiful ornamenta- 
tion ; and for the joyful triumphant bravura close which 
carries all before it. For this reason the three-movement 
form has remained in general use for instrumental concertos 
until the present day. The orchestration of Bach's concertos 
is very strong, and in particular the wind instruments 
appear in greater force, though they were already employed 
in the chamber concerto. Such an application of them as 
we find here had, it is true, never been dreamed of by 
any one before ; like the stringed instruments they were 
altogether brought under subjection to that polyphony of 
Bach's by which everything was quickened and compelled 
to his will. Let us now consider the concertos separately. 

First concerto, in F major. Instruments : the string 
quartet, strengthened in the bass by the Violone grosso 
(the double-bass), and in the first violin part by the Violino 
piccolo (a bright-toned and smaller violin tuned a fourth 
higher), two horns, two oboes, bassoon, and harpsichord 
of course as the accompaniment (Basso continuo). The 
usual relations between solo and tutti are disregarded in 
this concerto, and there are no special subjects for each 
respectively. The material for the first movement is given 
out by all the instruments together in bars 1-13. They then 
divide into three groups horns, wood, and strings and 


work out this material in the style of a concerto. The 
first bar 

is now raised to the rank of a tutti subject, and is used to 
mark the beginning of each new section ; the rest of the 
phrase serves for the contrasting solo subject. When 
distributed on the instruments, this antagonism is no longer 
prominent, the working-out obeys the laws of free writing, 
but so that the concerto style is preserved between the three 
groups, which are united together at the climaxes to a 
magnificent body of sound in ten parts. The divisions are 
very clear and intelligible, as they are in all well written 
movements in the concerto style ; they are as follows, the 
" exposition," or first few bars being reckoned in : A, bars 
1-13 (F major) ; B, 13-27 (F major) ; C, 27-43 (D minor) ; 
D, 43-52 (C major) ; E, 52-57 (G minor) ; F, 57-72 (F major) ; 
G, 72-84 (F major). The reciprocal relations of the divisions 
are of especial interest ; the first two in the principal key 
return at the close in inverted order, enclosing the others in 
the middle, so that they correspond as follows : 


Thus the form is cyclic, in the same way as that of the 
violin sonata in G major, and the cantata " Gottes Zeit " 
(see Vol. I., p. 456), except that in the latter case it extends 
over the whole work. Exactly the same disposition is found 
again in the third movement, where bars 1-17 correspond 
to the closing bars 108-124, anc ^ Dars I 7-4 to bars 84-108, 
while the working-out is enclosed in the middle. And 
again these two divisions of similar form and fresh and 
exuberant character enclose, in the adagio (D minor, 3-4 
time), the true kernel of the whole. The adagio is one of 
the most impassioned songs of woe ever written. The melody 
gives expression to a piercing grief, often rising to a shrill 
cry ; the oboe begins it in an apparently objectless way on 
the dominant, and then the high violin and the gloomy bass 
take it up one after another, after which it is carried on in 

K 2 


close canon on the oboe and violin ; while below, the quavers 
of the accompanying instruments keep on in a calm and 
mournful manner. The finale, as bold and full of genius as 
the opening,, breaks in upon this movement, as that of 
Beethoven's Eroica Symphony does upon its funeral march ; 
the unsatisfied cries of woe suddenly cease : only a soft sob is 
heard in the empty air. Appended to the concerto are a 
Minuet diversified by a Polacca and two trios. These are 
fine music and a work of genius, but have nothing to do 
with the true concerto. Dance-forms were much in favour, 
as has been said, even in orchestral concerto, although they 
were in entire opposition to the ideal of the form. This is 
the only instance of Bach having made a concession to the 
taste of the time ; and as the dances can be separated from 
the rest of the work, if desired, they hardly impair its beauty. 
Second concerto, in F major. Instruments : trumpet, flute, 
oboe, violin, and the string band as tutti. It is thus a true Con- 
certo grosso, excepting that the concertino i.e., the group of solo 
instruments which is contrasted with the tutti here consists 
of four, all of high register : namely, one string and three wind ; 
so that a departure is made in every way from the custom 
which decrees that the concertino shall consist of two violins 
and a violoncello. The plan of the first movement is a 
model of clearness and simplicity, but an indescribable 
wealth of episodical invention and the most delicate combi- 
nation sparkles and gushes forth from all sides. The 
andante (in D minor) consists of a quartet of flute, oboe, 
violin, and violoncello, with harpsichord ; the finale, allegro 
assai, is a fugue in the concertino parts supported by the 
bass and accompanied by the tutti in a modest and masterly 
manner. On account of its crystal, clear, and transparent 
organism, this concerto is a greater favourite than the closer 
fabric of the first ; the feeling, moreover, is throughout of a 
kind easily entered into. The marvellously beautiful andante 
is only soft and tenderly simple, while the first and last 
movements rush and riot with all the freshness and vigour 
of youth. Truly, even if Bach could not avail himself of the 
full colours used by later musicians, yet his instrumental 
music is steeped in the true spirit of German romance. 


This first movement : how it goes past like a troop of 
youthful knights with gleaming eyes and waving crests ! 
One begins a joyful song which echoes through the tree-tops 
in the forest ; a second and a third take it up, and their 
comrades chime in in chorus ; now the song loses itself in the 
distance : it gets fainter and fainter : anon it is heard for an 
instant, and then wafted away by the wind and drowned 
by the fluttering of the leaves. 

" Fainter and fainter still, upon the air 
The music dies away but where ? ah, where ? " 

And this is evolved from the simple concerto form ! 

Third concerto, in G major. Instruments : three violins, 
three violas, three violoncellos, violin and harpsichord. The 
first movement is similar in its development to that of the 
first concerto, but is superior, from the art and charm with 
which it is treated. The violins, violas, and violoncellos 
play in three groups, sometimes treated polyphonally among 
themselves, sometimes not, and frequently combined in 
unison. What is made out of these subjects 


is astounding in fact, the whole movement is built on them. 
It is throughout instinct with life and genius. One passage 
(from bar 78 onwards) is as fine as anything in the whole 
realm of German instrumental music ; the chief subject is 
given out in the second violin part, the first violin then starts 
an entirely new subject which next appears on the second 
violin, drawing in more and more instruments, and is at last 
taken up by the third violin and the third viola, and given 
out weightily on their G string ; this is the signal for a flood 
of sound to be set free from all sides, in the swirl of which all 
polyphony is drowned for several bars. There is no adagio 
in regular form. Two long-held chords alone release the 
imagination for a moment, and then begins the concluding 
movement, a true concerto finale in 12-8 time. 

Fourth concerto, in G major. Instruments : violin, two 
flutes, and the strings as tutti. It is a Concerto grosso in the 


manner of No. 2. 183 The first movement, allegro in 3-8 time, 
is of a very pleasing character. The material is given out in 
bars 1-83, for the most part by the concertino, the tutti only 
interrupting it now and then. Here again we meet with the 
" cyclic " arrangement, showing that this still was the master's 
ideal of form. The " exposition " (A) is followed in bars 
83-157 by a working-out (B) going into the relative minor ; 
then there is a further working-out (C) up to bar 235, after 
which (B) returns with some alterations and extensions 
until bar 345, when (A) is brought back for the close. The 
adagio in E minor, which is entirely taken up with alter- 
nations between the tutti and the concertino, is a beautiful 
and grave piece, in a mournful measure, like music for a 
funeral procession. The last movement consists of a fugue 
presto and in common time which is grand in every 
respect. It is 244 bars long, and for animation, for im- 
portance of subjects, for wealth of invention, for easy mastery 
over the most complicated technical points, for brilliancy 
and grace it is in the very first rank of Bach's works of this 

Fifth concerto, in D major. Instruments : flute, violin, 
harpsichord and the ordinary tutti. It is not a strict clavier 
concerto with accompaniment, but the clavier combines with 
the violin and flute to form a contrasting group with the 
tutti ; in this a second harpsichord for accompanying only 
was probably introduced, in accordance with Bach's usual 
practice, even in concertos for the clavier only. In this way 
this work belongs properly to the class of Concerti grossi, or 
at least it is derived from them. But that the clavier must 
have taken the lion's share in this combination is obvious 
from its character, and this is more easy to understand when 
we consider the great subjective importance of the place held 
by the harpsichord in this class of Bach's chamber composi- 
tions. Two subjects for tutti and solo respectively are given 
out in perfectly developed form, and engage in the most 

188 W. Rust, in the B.-G. edition, is wrong in calling it a violin concerto. The 
word ripieni in the title applies only to the violins, since there are no flauti 
ripieni. Besides this, the intention is clear from the work itself. Dehn, in the 
Peters edition, gives it the right title. 


charming alternations. One fragment of the tutti in par- 

is worked out with the loveliest combinations. In the 
middle there is evolved a new subject in F sharp minor of a 
quiet and calm character 

it sets out in its course over the gently moving waves of 
harmony, and loses itself as on an immeasurable ocean, 
guided only by a rhythm on one note, until the wind swells 
the sails and brings us to the wished-for destination (bars 
71-101). Before the last tutti there is a great clavier solo, 
which demands, as does also the other clavier part, a ringer 
dexterity which no one except Bach could have possessed at 
that time. A lovely and tender affettuoso in B minor stands 
for the middle movement. The general character of the 
concerto is not so much deep or grand as cheerful, delicate, 
and refined. The last movement is of the same character. 
It is in the form which was noticed first in the violin sonatas 
with harpsichord obbligato for instance, in the second 
movement of the sonatas in A major. The structure is in 
three sections, after the pattern of the Italian aria ; the first, 
which is completely repeated for the third, is fugal, and the 
second introduces a subsidiary theme and combines it with 
the chief subject. This subsidiary, however, is here derived 
from the chief theme and is of exceptional melodic charm ; 
in the harmonic treatment a false relation which constantly 
recurs and quickly vanishes again is very remarkable. 

Sixth concerto, in B flat major. Instruments: two violas, 
two viol da gambas, violoncello, and violin, with harpsichord. 
There are two subjects for tutti and solo respectively (bars 
1-17 and 17-25), but only in idea, not specified by particular 
instruments. That for tutti consists of a canon for the two 
violas at the distance of a quaver, 184 while the other instru- 

184 Kirnberger, in his " Kunst des reinen Satzes," II., 2, p. 57, quotes it as 
a model. 


ments have a simple harmonic accompaniment of quavers, 
so that the result is a movement similar to the church 
sonatas of Gabrieli and Bach. In the solo subject this 

is taken up in all parts in an animated manner. The whole 
novement has a strangely mysterious character, such as 
Hach alone could give it, and doubly strange when we 
consider the original object of a concerto. The theme of 
the adagio (E flat major, 3-2 time) is a lovely melody, given 
out by the two violas alone over the basses. For a long 
time they keep the theme to themselves, treating it fugally, 
until at last it is taken up by the basses with beautiful effect. 
The final close is, curiously enough, in G minor. This 
movement is unusually noble and grand in character. The 
last movement, a concerto finale in 12-8 time, is powerful, 
without abandoning the fundamental character of the first 
movement, and it requires very good viola-players. While 
retaining the general character of the Italian gigue, it is 
in three sections, and yet altogether concerto-like in treat- 

From a production of the highest genius and mastery in art, 
as these six Brandenburg concertos must be called, one glance 
may not unfitly be directed to corresponding works by Bach's 
contemporaries. The Concerto grosso rapidly came into favour 
at the beginning of the eighteenth century, and the best 
musicians tried experiments in it. But they only followed the 
pattern of Vivaldi's style to a limited extent, and there was 
another style, as has been said, which originated with 
Corelli's sonatas. These composers retained the four-move- 
ment form in the recognised order : an adagio, a fugue in the 
same key, an adagio in an allied key, and a finale ; but they 
did not forget that the form admitted of more movements, 
and did not exclude dance types. But at the same 
time this imitation and dependence on a previous style 
exercised a powerful influence on the shaping of the separate 
movements. The dialogue between solo and tutti remained 


only an external alteration of different bodies of sound on 
the same material, and was scarcely more than a contrast, 
phrase by phrase, between strong and weak tones ; in the 
clavier and organ music this was represented by the different 
manuals in the fugal movements of the French over- 
tures by the contrast of the whole orchestra with the trio 
of oboes and bassoon. Thus in their essential nature these 
works were not concertos at all, but orchestral sonatas. 
Telemann liked this form, but did not devote himself exclu- 
sively to it ; the man who did the greatest things with it was 
Handel. Handel's Concerti grossi cannot be compared with 
Bach's, since they have scarcely anything in common but the 
name. It might have been said that there was nothing in 
common, if he had wholly avoided the form of Vivaldi's con- 
certos in them. Where he uses it, however, he is always the 
great artist ; but the fact is plain that his genius was unsuited 
to this class of composition. 185 In the broad adagios, in the 
fugues, and in the simple dances of the Corelli sonata he found 
the impulses which most certainly set in motion the purely 
musical side of his nature. In accordance with his aim, 
which was to produce something brilliant and showy, he 
gave this form larger proportions and filled it with meaning. 
A precisely similiar case is that of Handel's organ concertos, 
the mention of which is suggested by the fifth of the Branden- 
burg concertos. In these, too, the form and order of the 
movements are influenced in the most striking way by the 
sonata. But with him the organ is only a more powerful 
clavier, and of true organ style there is as good as none. But 
here, more than in the Concerti grossi, we meet with the real 
form of the concerto movements, because it was suggested 
so plainly by the independent and complete nature of the 
clavier or the organ. 186 As far as the form had been developed 
by the Italians, especially by Vivaldi, so far Handel wielded 
it with mastery; but he in no degree furthered its true growth. 

185 For instance, in the C major concerto (Handel Society's edition, XXL, 
p. 63), which, excepting in the last gavotte, has quite the Vivaldi form ; and in the 
second movement of the great G major concerto (same ed., XXX., No. i). 

186 Handel Society, XXVIII. Compare particularly concertos i, 2, 4, and 6 
from Op. 4 ; from Op. 7, concertos 3 and 6. 


It is a significant fact of his musical nature that no single 
instrumental form of the many that were being developed at 
the time received any furtherance of growth from him. He 
appropriated what had been done in this way up to the time 
of his own work, and his incomparable wealth of ideas enabled 
him easily to surpass even the important works of other com- 
posers. When he lighted upon anything of this kind which 
was, comparatively speaking, formed, he was successful in 
producing instrumental works of lasting worth. Irrespective 
of the undeveloped condition of the Corelli sonatas as 
regards the arrangement and connection of the movements, 
Handel's Concerti grossi, so far as they depend upon those, 
are important enough to take a lasting place of honour 
in German instrumental music ; and we do not wish to see 
the time when works like the concertos in E minor, A minor, 
and G minor shall have lost their effect, 187 for they contain 
at least separate sections of a solid and concise kind. But 
for the form of the concerto the Italians had scarcely done 
more than prepare the skeleton ; the best was yet to be done, 
and chiefly by means of the art of treating episodes. Like 
the Italians, Handel possessed but little of this art, and that 
explains the unsatisfied feeling left more or less by all his 
movements in concerto style. Nothing is developed : all is 
ready made from the beginning, and only awaits the moment 
when it shall be displayed. 188 Other German composers, 
such as Telemann, or the Kammer-musicus at Dresden, 
Dismas Zelenka, produced works of this class which were 
more conformable to rules, though not so rich in ideas. 
These, however, after all, are too inferior in talent to Bach 
to be allowed to share in the fame of having brought the 
concerto form to its highest point of development. 

The Brandenburg concertos form a class by themselves in 
German orchestral music, since they must be reckoned as 
such. As among mountains the highest points seem close 
to one another, and the ravine that lies between them, and 
that will take many toilsome hours to traverse, is almost 

"' Handel Society, XXX., No. 3, 4, 6. 

188 Compare the intelligent and clever dissertation on Handel as an instru- 
mental composer in Chrysander's Handel, III., p. 174 ff. 


indistinguishable at a distance, so these seem nearly allied to 
the modern symphony, and yet no direct way lies between 
them. They stand upon another and a much narrower 
foundation, upon which only a gigantic creative power could 
raise such a structure. The orchestral music proper of the 
period was not the Concerto grosso, then hardly invented, but 
the orchestral suite. This form, together with the clavier suite 
which had sprung from its root in the seventeenth century, 
practically reached its completion and end in the first half of 
the eighteenth century. So rational a unity as that presented 
by the clavier suite was out of the question in the orchestral 
suite, on account of the surroundings among which it grew. 
Whether there was ever any half-established custom with 
regard to the arrangement of the dances is for the present 
uncertain, but it is clear that the most eminent employers of 
this form recognised no such rule, and that the separate 
component parts are always grouped quite in an arbitrary 
way. But this lack of definite form was only the reverse 
side of an important advantage namely, that the orchestral 
suite had sprung directly from the life of the German people. 
The freshly flowing fount of popular melody of the older 
centuries sprang forth from the ruins of the Thirty Years' 
War and divided into two streams : the sacred song or hymn, 
which was soon appropriated to the use of the organ, and 
the instrumental dance, which fell to the care of the town 
pipers. It matters not that so many other nations, especially 
the French, should have contributed some of their tunes and 
style. On the contrary, by this means the German spirit 
was kindled into that activity so peculiarly its own, which 
absorbs and amalgamates foreign elements to be part of 
its own strength ; this, as has been said before, was an 
advantage won directly from the turmoil of war. The 
French at all events contributed largely to the more delicate 
bringing out of rhythm in German dance music, and not 
only that, but we owe to them the first orchestral form of a 
secular character namely, the so-called French overture. 
But they had hardly any share in the artistic development 
and elevation of this overture and of the dance types. Nor 
did they attempt to form an artistic whole from these 


elements. Even the Italians were far superior to them in 
these respects : there are overtures by Antonio Lotti, in the 
French style, such as no true Frenchman could have written 
in so excellent a way, to say nothing of Handel with his 
Italian education. 

But the Germans formed a suitable set of dance pieces 
into a purely musical collective whole, prefixing to them a 
French overture. This is evident from the remarkable 
circumstance that the name " Suite " was not used for the 
analogous orchestral form, as it surely would have been had 
the French done as much for it as for the dance series 
for the clavier. But no general and collective name exists 
for it. With that modesty which is so characteristic of the 
true German musician, and which confines itself to the 
matter in hand, careless about outward appearance, the 
composers either indicated the separate component parts in 
the title of such a work, or were content to abbreviate it in 
this way, " Ouverture, &c.," then giving a list of the 
instruments employed. But the separate dances contained 
in any particular set were called by the town pipers 
" Parties " (" Partheyen") and we only do justice to the 
Germans in calling the class of music henceforth by the 
German name of " Orchester-partien." 

If any one was destined to bring forth something extra- 
ordinary in this class, it was assuredly Sebastian Bach. In 
order to prove this it is sufficient simply to look back 
to his ancestors. His father, uncle, and grandfather had 
followed exclusively the calling of town pipers. How could 
this tendency of German art-life fail to find its completion in 
the musician who was to comprise in himself all the abilities 
which his family had developed for a hundred years ? If the 
number of his " Orchester-partien " is not large since the 
whole form was not earnest or prolific enough for this to be 
the case, and the clavier suite had absorbed a good part of 
his creative impulse in this direction yet their very existence 
goes to show how thoroughly national was Bach's indi- 
viduality. Let no one, as we have said before, 189 think 

189 See Vol. I., p. 162. 


lightly of the importance of the place held in music by the 
town pipers of the seventeenth century. Granted that there 
were no little roughness and disorderliness among them; 
the Volkssanger (people's singers) of the sixteenth century 
were also rough and disorderly in their way. Nevertheless 
their songs handed down a genuine element of the old 
German spirit, and became a model of its expression; and 
so it was with the instrumental dance of the later period. 
Add to this that the Bach family made the most strenuous 
efforts to keep as clear as possible from the vulgarity of 
their companions. The great composer truly had no reason 
to be ashamed of coming into this part of the inheritance 
of his ancestors. And in fact he had taken possession of it 
with joy, with full intent to apply all the wealth of his 
powers to this ideal of national art. His four Orchester- 
partien are altogether works of a master hand, and in 
this respect of equal excellence. The keys are C major, 
B minor, and (twice) D major. 190 They all begin with a 
French overture worked out at some length. First, there is 
a grave, which is repeated and followed by a fugue leading 
back into the grave, and also repeated. The typical cha- 
racter, consisting of the contrast between broad beauty and 
eager impetus, is plainly recognisable, but is marvellously 
refined, so that we hear no opera music, but the most delicate 
chamber music, especially in the overture in B minor. 

After that, in the C major partie, comes a courante, a 
gavotte, a Forlane (a Venetian dance in 6-4 time, resembling 
a gigue), a minuet, a bourree, and a passepied. All the 
pieces except the courante and the forlane are double, so as 
to bring out in each the favourite contrast between the 
strong and the tender, and make each complete in itself. 
The name " trio," now universally known, came from this 
custom, for the tender subject was played by only three 
instruments, or was in only three parts ; but soon the 
number of parts was not restricted, although the general 
character of the music remained the same. Here only the 

19 Three of these are published in P. S., VI., Nos. 7, 8, 9 (Vols. 267-269). See 
Appendix A, 9. 


bourree and the passepied have trios in the strictest sense ; 
the last-named dance is repeated in a different setting for 
its own trio, in a wonderfully ingenious manner, all the 
violins and tenors playing the melody in the inner part, 
while the oboes have a rocking motion above it in quavers. 
The trio of the gavotte is properly only in three parts, but 
the united violins and tenors give out at intervals, and 
without finishing it, a soft passage in the style of a fanfare 
a fancy which Bach had introduced before on the horns, in 
the first movement of the first Brandenburg concerto. The 
trio of the minuet, on the other hand, is played by the 
strings alone ; it goes by with an elastic step, and a sweet 
and caressing character. 

In the B minor partie the overture is followed by a rondo, 
a sarabande, a bourree, a polonaise, a minuet, and a little 
piece in free style in 2-4 time, entitled " Tandelei " 
(Badinerie) ; the bourree has a trio, and the polonaise a 
variation. This partie, in which there is only a flute in 
addition to the string quartet, has throughout a distinguished 
and debonair character peculiar to itself ; it thus stands 
in a certain contrast to the other, without ever entirely 
casting off the popular feeling. The rondo form, which 
we meet with here for the first time in Bach's works, seems 
to have been imported from France ; in it a short phrase, 
generally of eight bars, alternates with an arbitrary number of 
somewhat longer interludes. The rondo in question is freely 
constructed on this plan, but the chief theme is heard even in 
the interludes ; it is a real pearl of musical invention, and 
steeped in Bach's peculiar melancholy. In the sarabande 
the ear is occupied with following an interesting canon 
between the upper part and the bass; the first bourree has a 
delightful burlesque working-out of a basso ostinato 

the variation on the lovely polonaise keeps the melody in the 
bass from beginning to end, while the flute has a figure above 
it, supported by chords on the harpsichord. With this 
should be compared the beautiful and effective polonaise in 
G major, from Handel's E minor concerto, the whole of 


which throws a very clear light on the different character of 
the two masters, even in this class of composition. 191 The 
Badinerie at the close represents indeed no clearly defined 
dance type, but completely retains the form of two sections. 
The introduction of such pieces was taken, as its name 
implies, from the French. Even real dances were given 
names a la Couperin; thus once Bernhard Bach calls a 
bourree " Us plaisirs," and another time a piece of like form 
"lajoye;" but even this composer introduced pieces that 
entirely departed from the dance form. On the other hand, 
I know an orchesterpartie by Telemann, in which all the 
pieces are in dance rhythm, but no single one has any 
name. Thus, as we see, the greatest liberty prevailed. A 
general title for such free dance forms was ''Air,' 1 which 
was not especially used for simple or cantabile pieces. 192 

One of the parties in D major concludes in the same way 
as that in B minor. The finale is here called Rejouissance 
and has a bold and vigorous motion in triple time. The 
other numbers are, after the overture : Bourree i and 2, 
Gavotte, Minuet I and 2. The component parts of the other 
D major partie are : Air, Gavotte i and 2, Bourr6e and 
Gigue in the Italian style. Besides having the same key 
they are both more strongly orchestrated ; for, besides the 
string quartet, three trumpets, three and two oboes re- 
spectively, and drums are employed. The last-mentioned 
partie is a favourite in our time and is often performed, but 
the others are no less worthy. It is to be hoped that in time 
all the orchestral works of Bach will take their proper 
place in our public performances, as soon as the material 
hindrances are removed which have hitherto stood in the 
way of the performance of a great part of them. Before all 
else the restoration of the old trumpet, so rich in animation, 
compass, and expression, is indispensable. The instrument 
which is now substituted for it can either not perform what 
is required of it at all, or else by its piercing tones distorts 

191 Handel Society, XXX., p. 40. 

198 Comp. Vol. I., p. 576. Dismas Zelenka also gives complicated and 
various forms under this name. 


the delicate proportions of Bach's outlines in such a way 
that only a caricature is the result. 

It was pointed out earlier in this work 193 that Bernhard Bach, 
Sebastian's cousin, had done remarkable things as a composer 
of orchester-partien. In this composer, too, the influences 
of the family of town pipers from which he sprung are very 
clearly to be seen. He has a right to be considered as the 
foremost in this branch of art after Sebastian Bach. Ludwig 
Bach, of Meiningen, is only known to posterity by a single 
partie, but in this there are traces of that old style which are 
all the more remarkable when we consider his leaning 
towards softness and Italian charm of sound. At all events, 
all the orchester-partien by other composers with which I 
am acquainted are far inferior to the productions of the 
Bachs. Handel, so far as I know, made no attempt in this 
class of composition. 

We have called Handel's the more universal talent as 
contrasted with Bach's; and justly, so far as his relation 
to the culture of nations and his effect upon it are concerned. 
He was educated in Germany, travelled in Italy, studied 
French music, and lived in England. He succeeded, as 
no other of our great masters have ever done, in setting in 
vibration those cords of the human heart, which are inde- 
pendent alike of nationality and of time, and more or less the 
same all over the world. But if we look at the musical 
material presented in the whole body of his work we see that 
he left a considerable part of the elements with which the 
musical atmosphere of the time was filled entirely unused. 
It was not he, but Bach, who was universal in amalgamating 
all the musical forms of the national culture of the time. The 
course of our investigations justifies us in saying that there 
was no single musical form existing all through the seven- 
teenth century or in the beginning of the eighteenth that was 
not brought to lasting perfection either by Bach alone or by 
Bach and Handel together. At the close of the narrative 
of the Weimar period I drew attention to the vast wealth of 
forms worked upon by Bach. Add to these the Chamber 

198 See Vol. I., p. 26. 


Sonata, the Suite, and the " Orchester-partie " with the 
French overture, and we have before us all that Germany, 
Italy, and France can offer us in the sphere of pure music. 
If the verdict that Handel was broader and Bach more 
profound is to remain in force, it must not be understood 
to mean that Bach restricted himself to one or to a few 
branches of art. The very essence of music is depth, and 
the more this is the case, the richer will its outcome be. 
To Handel the poetic aspect of the art was the chief object, 
and this, by means of sung words, is universally intelligible ; 
Bach devoted himself to what was purely musical. Without 
question many a true German characteristic found noble 
and worthy expression in Handel also for instance, his pre- 
disposition to devote himself to what was foreign in order 
to absorb it into his own personality, while purifying and com- 
pleting it ; consider, too, his fearlessness, his perseverance, his 
right-mindedness, and high morality ! On these grounds 
he is and he remains German ; but in his whole nature 
rather than in a specially musical way, for he neglected the 
most characteristic German art of his time namely, that of 
the organ, with the chorale as its central point. It is the 
very fact that in Bach this was the true focus in which 
every ray of light was concentrated, from thence to radiate 
with new effects, which renders him in the most emphatic 
sense a national musician. The activity which permeated 
all the art elements of the time was not due to his per- 
sonality alone, but to that music which was at the time the 
fullest and purest expression of the German nature, and of 
which he was merely the most famous representative. On 
this foundation he constructed the church cantata in 
Weimar, and from it he evolved there and with still more 
energy at Cothen every musical form which is now uni- 
versally accepted, and imbued it with nobler substance. But 
this was not enough. These newly created musical entities 
showed their vitality by twining round each other, sending 
out shoots hither and thither, and meeting again, from 
opposite poles as it were, to unite once more and become 
the parents of newer and greater forms. Bach's develop- 
ment, when we once recognise the motive power of it, 
n. L 


grows and blossoms like a flower ; it is as though we saw 
into nature's mighty workshop : 

Each to the whole its influence gives, 

Each in the other works and lives ! 

Like heavenly angels upward, downward soaring, 

And fragrant odours from their vials pouring, 

All joy, all bliss abounding, 

The earth with heavenly life surrounding, 

And all the Eternal's praise resounding ! 

Yea, verily ! for it is not that B.ach's creations reproduce 
more purely perhaps than those of any other German 
master the inmost soul of music ; no, it is that his very 
being, his moral essence, and the breath of his life were 
music music in that deepest sense in which it is conceived 
in Goethe's " Faust " as a reverberation of the sempiternal 
harmony of the Macrocosm. That effect which is produced 
alike by an absorbed contemplation of nature and by the 
enjoyment of any truly great music the strengthening of 
our moral tone combined with the purest pleasure is also to 
be found in the apparently simple and undisturbed current of 
the great man's life. Hitherto it has lain dormant : would 
that it might wake to bring gladness and exaltation to his 
country 1 




KNOWING the views of life that prevailed in the Bach 
family, it is hardly necessary to say that Sebastian did 
not live long in the state of widowhood to which he had 
been brought by the death of his first wife. His father, 
under similar circumstances and at a far more advanced 
age, had remarried at the end of only seven months. Though 
the son could not, like him, console himself at the end of so 
short a time for such a bitter loss, he nevertheless was 
making preparations for a second marriage at the end of the 
year 1721. He had long been known among the ducal band 
at Weissenfels ; in 1714 he had chosen one of its members 
a chamber musician to be godfather to his son Philipp 


Emanuel. In the youngest daughter of the Court trumpeter, 
Johann Caspar Wiilken, he found the woman who could 
reconstitute the household which had been so suddenly 
broken up. Anna Magdalena Wulken was at that time 
twenty-one years old ; the wedding took place on the 
3rd of December, 1721, in Bach's house. This was in 
obedience to the commands of Prince Leopold, who felt a 
personal interest in the important step his friend was taking; 
all the more so because, just eight days later, his own 
marriage was to be solemnised with Frederike Henriette, 
a princess of Anhalt-Bernburg, aged nineteen. 194 

His young wife was to the master a source of deep and 
permanent happiness. She was extremely musical and took 
a part in her husband's labours, which extended far beyond a 
mere enjoyment of them. She was endowed with a fine 
soprano voice, and assisted in the performance of Sebastian's 
compositions not, it is true, in public, but all the more 
zealously in the family circle and she was the centre of the 
little domestic band which Bach was beginning to gather 
round him, formed of his nearest relations. He writes 
feelingly of this on October 28, 1730, to his friend Georg 
Erdmann : " They are one and all [his children] born musi- 
cians, and I can assure you that I can already form a concert, 
both vocal and instrumental, of my own family, particularly 
as my present wife sings a very clear soprano and my 
eldest daughter joins in bravely." Anna Magdalena was 
skilful, too, with the pen, and not seldom, when her house- 
hold work was done, she would help her too busy husband 
in copying his own or other music. In this way she 
assisted with her beautiful handwriting in copying out 
the solo sonatas for violin and violoncello, and a manu- 
script copy of Handel's music to Brockes' text on the Passion 
is in great part executed by her. Her notation is rather less 

194 Gerber, Lexicon, I., col. 76. Register of the Cathedral of Cothen. It 
would seem that Anna Magdalena was not born at Weisseniels, since the 
register does not mention her. Even before her marriage she was Court singer 
at Cothen and betrothed to Sebastian Bach as early as September, 1721. As 
such she stood sponsor with him to a child of Christian Halen, cellar clerk to 
the Prince. Baptismal register of the Cathedral of Cothen. 

L 2 


light than Sebastian's and differs from it in the form of the 
C clef, the naturals, and the sharps, and in a few other trifles, 
but it is very flowing and free, without a trace of feminine 
ineptitude, as also is the alphabetical hand, which also differs 
from her husband's in certain particulars ; still the whole 
effect both of notes and letters is often so like Bach's as to be 
difficult to distinguish. But she was not satisfied with this : 
she was her husband's diligent pupil in clavier-playing, and 
even in playing from figured bass. 

Two music-books, kept in common by the husband and 
wife, display very touchingly their intimate and tender 
relations. 195 They are full of the most miscellaneous 
matters; the older of the two is in small oblong quarto 
and is modestly bound in dull green boards with back 
and corners of brown leather. On the inside of the board 
is written, not very regularly, in Gothic letters, " Clavier 
Biichlein | vor | Anna Magdalena Bachin | ANNO 1722." 
Then follows the letter B on a fresh line as if some- 
thing was to have been added ; and then, in Bach's 
hand : 

" Anii Calvinismus undj 

Christen Schule item r von D. Pfeifern." 196 

Anii Melancholicus / 

Thus, this little book must have been begun immediately 
after their marriage. The words written under the title 
are a playful, but perfectly serious indication of the purpose 
of the work, which was to oppose that dry Calvinistic 
doctrine, inimical to all art, which reigned supreme in 
Cothen, and to counteract all the sorrows and bitter 
experiences of life the " School of the Christian " all 
gloomy thoughts and dismal moods. How could the 
fountain of music, either in the church or in home-life, 
be better described? Dominus Pfeiffer was a theological 

195 Both in the Royal Library at Berlin. 

198 More correctly " Ante Calvinismus," either a slip of the pen or perhaps 
only indecipherable. Dr. F. L. Hollmann, in Liibeck, soon after the first 
appearance of this volume, suggested to me that it was the Leipzig professor, 
Dr. August Pfeiffer, who was probably meant by these words, and the 
accuracy of this view was subsequently confirmed by the list of Bach's Theo- 
logical Library. See Vol. III., Appendix B., VI. 


writer of the seventeenth century. Bach had his works 
Evangelische Christen Schule, Anti-Calvinismus, and Anti- 
Melancholicus on his own bookshelves, and the Clavier- 
biichlein was to be, to a certain extent, their musical re- 
flection. Its contents were for the most part worked out 
in the French suites, to which we shall come presently. 
Besides these it contains an ornate chorale in three parts, 
"Jesus, mein Zuversicht," 197 a fragment of a fantasia for the 
organ perhaps Anna Magdalena wished learn to play the 
organ too an air with the beginning of some variations on 
it, and a minuet. 198 

The second and larger book has a green binding stamped 
with gold, and gilt edges, and has a more imposing appear- 
ance ; it is tied with a band of brown silk fastened to the 
upper cover. In the middle of the cover there is stamped 
in gold 

A. M. B. 


It belongs, therefore, to the Leipzig period, and must have 
been a gift from her husband. Besides two clavier partitas 
(those in A minor and E minor of the first part of the 
" Clavierubung "), two of the French suites, the C major 
prelude of the Wohltemperirte Clavier, and the air for the 
Goldberg variations published in Part IV. of the Clavier- 
ubung, it chiefly contains little pieces written out by Anna 
Magdalena herself polonaises, minuets, marches, and 
such like which are not indeed all by Sebastian himself; 
for one minuet (page 70) bears the express statement 
"fait par Mons. Bohm." However, we come upon various 
vocal pieces : first, the beautiful hymn by Paul Gerhard 
" Gieb dich zufrieden und sei stille in dem Gotte deines 
Lebens" "Be still, my soul, and rest contented in the hand 
of God thy Maker." It must have been a favourite with 
Bach, for it is to be found three times in succession, and 
with two quite new melodies in F major and E minor (or 
G minor). With regard to the last, Bach is stated to be the 

"* P. S., V., Appendix No. 2. 
"8 p. S., I., C. 13. No. ix, I. 


composer of it, and a special importance is very justly 
attached to this melody, for it is one of the most impressive 
sacred airs in existence, and any one who hears it under con- 
ditions worthy of it, in Bach's own four-part setting, will 
carry away an impression which he will not forget so long as 
he lives. 199 Towards the end of the book Bach has written 
another beautiful composition of his own on the hymn by 
B. Crasselius " Dir, Dir Jehovah will ich singen j 200 before and 
after this are the hymns " Schaffs mit mir, Gott, nach deinem 
Willen " and " Wie wohl ist mir o Freund der Seelen." 201 

Besides these compositions, which stand halfway between 
the congregational hymn and more secular music, there are 
a few true arias written for Anna Magdalena's voice. The 
first place must be awarded to the lovely piece " Schlummert 
ein, ihr matten Augen, fallet sanft und selig zu," with the 
recitative belonging to it, taken out of the sacred cantata 
" Ich habe genug, ich habe den Heiland," and transposed 
to suit the singer from E flat major to G major. 202 A second 
and more song-like aria in E flat major, " Gedenke doch, 
mein Geist, zuriicke ans Grab und an den Glockenschlag " 
" Consider, oh, my soul, remember the grave and ponder on 
the end " is a warning to prepare for death ; this likewise 
is a composition by Sebastian in Anna Magdalena's hand- 
writing. This is followed by the chorale " O Ewigkeit, du 
Donnerwort " " Eternity, oh word of might " not, it is 
true, in the same key, but evidently connected with the 
former in the mind of the transcriber. A third aria, similar 
to these, in F minor, " Warum betriibst du dich und beugest 
dich zur Erden, mein sehr geplagter Geist " " Wherefore 
art thou so sad, and why so crushed and broken, oh, much 
tormented soul " treats of submission to the will of God. 
The interest she evidently took in these compositions shows 

199 Published by L. Erk, Johann Sebastian Bach's mehrstimmige Choral- 
gesange und geistliche Arien. I., 43, 44 ; II., 208. Leipzig: Peters. 

800 L. Erk, ibid., I., 19 and 20. 

801 L. Erk, ibid., L, ixz, has given the air of the first of these. Both were 
well-known hymns, and are to be found in Schemelli's collection. 

404 B.-G., XX., i, No. 82. The accompaniment is not written down, since 
Bach would have transposed it at sight from the score of the cantata. 


how near the young wife's sympathies must have been to the 
grand world of ideas, with its " dim religious light," in which 
her husband had his being. 

Two other songs are of a more familiar character. The 
" Edifying reflections of a Smoker " show us Bach in the 
comfortable attitude of a citizen and house-father, as the 
Germans say ; still, even here, his reflections take a sober 


So oft ich meine Tabakspfeife, 
Mit gutem Knaster angefiillt, 
Zur Lust und Zeitvertreib ergreife, 
So giebt sie mir ein Trauerbild, 
Und fiiget diese Lehre bei, 
Dass ich derselben anhlich sei. 

Whenever in an hour of leisure, 
With Knaster good my pipe I fill, 
And sit and smoke for rest or pleasure, 
Sad pictures rise without my will. 
Watching the clouds of smoke float by, 
I think how like this pipe am I. 

This comparison of the fragile clay pipe and its fleeting 
fire, so soon burnt out, with the brevity of human existence, 
is carried through five stanzas. The song occurs twice, 
once in D minor and then transposed for a soprano into 
G minor; Anna Magdalena desired to sing it and has 
transcribed it herself. The second song having a da capo 
form is still more a true aria. The text 

Bist du bei mir, geh ich mit Freuden 
Zum Sterben und zu meiner Ruh. 
Ach wie vergniigt war so meine Ende, 
Es driickten deine schbnen Hande 
Mir die getreuen Augen zu. 

Be thou but near, and I, contented 
Will go to Death, which is my rest. 
How sweet were then that deep reposing 
If thy soft hand mine eyes were closing 
On thee, their dearest and their best ! 

is evidently supposed to be addressed by a husband to a 
beloved wife, and has a peculiarly delicate and tender 
sentiment bordering on hyperbole and still perfectly true 
in feeling. Bach has given it a setting full of fervour and 


of purity (E flat major, 3-4 time). This also is intended for 
a soprano, and Anna Magdalena herself has written it out ; 
but a few resolutions of discords have been added subsequently 
by her husband, if I am not mistaken. This receptivity and 
sympathy with the moods of a man's mind marks a tender 
and childlike devotion in the wife. 203 The musical portion 
of the book extends to the chorale " Ewigkeit, du Donner- 
wort," on page 121, where the paging ceases. Then, after a 
blank page, come some wedding verses ; of course they can 
only refer to Anna Magdalena. That they should find their 
place here after the lapse of several years is a striking proof 
of a happy married life : 

Ihr Diener, werthe Jungfer Braut, 
Viel Gliicks zur heutgen Freude 1 
Wer sie in ihrem Kranzchen schaut 
Und schonen Hochzeit-Kleide, 
Dem lacht das Herz vor lauter Lust 
Bei ihrem Wohlergehen ; 
Was Wunder, wenn mir Mund und Brust 
Vor Freuden iibergehen. 

Your servant, sweetest maiden bride: 
Joy be with you this morning I 
To see you in your flowery crown 
And wedding-day adorning 
Would fill with joy the sternest soul. 
What wonder, as I meet you, 
That my fond heart and loving lips 
O'erflow with song to greet you ? 

On the other side of the leaf we come upon rules for 
figured bass playing, which are continued over four pages. 
The first and smaller portion, in which the major and minor 
scales and major and minor triads are explained, Anna 
Magdalena wrote out from a sketch or precis by Sebastian ; 
all that follows, and which contains serious instructions for 
playing from a figured bass, has been inserted by Bach's 

208 This aria begins on p. 75 and goes on to p. 78, the copyist probably 
turned over two leaves by mistake. On the vacant pages 76 and 77 the air for 
the Goldberg variations was subsequently written. With regard to the spurious- 
ness of the song attributed to Bach, which is certainly to be found in this book, 
see App. A, No. 10. 


own hand, and in a note at the end he says that the sequel 
must be taught by word of mouth. I shall take a future 
opportunity of returning to these rules for thorough bass. 

In the course of twenty-eight years of married life, Anna 
Magdalena brought him thirteen children, six sons and 
seven daughters : thus, by his two wives, Bach had in all 
twenty children. A portrait of her in oils, twenty-five inches 
high by twenty-three wide and painted by Cristofori, was 
afterwards in the possession of her stepson Philipp 
Emanuel. 204 In their rank of life it was an unusual 
distinction to have a portrait taken, and she must have 
had it done by Sebastian's desire : a fresh proof of the 
affection and high estimation on which the married life 
of this pair of artists was founded a model to all. 

When, in 1707, Bach was married for the first time, he 
had had the agreeable surprise of a legacy from his uncle, 
Tobias Lammerhirt, of Erfurt, then lately deceased. 205 It 
was a strange coincidence that, a few months before his 
second marriage, that uncle's widow also died without sur- 
viving heirs, and by her will part of her fortune fell to him. 
Sebastian had been on excellent terms with his aunt and 
had made her godmother to one of his elder children. 
He now had the opportunity of proving that his regard 
for her endured even beyond the grave, for a lawsuit 
was immediately begun as to the property she had left. 
Tobias Lammerhirt, not long before his death, had made 
a will to the effect that in the event of his decease legacies 
of various amounts were to be paid first to the children of 
his brothers and sisters, and to his godparents and half- 
brothers and sisters. The remainder was to go to his 
wife as residuary legatee, but with this proviso : that, if 
she remained a widow, at her death half the fortune 
was to revert to his nearest relations. The widow paid 
the legacies, and on October 8, 1720, made a will on 
her own part, in which she treated her husband's fortune 
as being her own inheritance and property, from which, 
at her death, she alienated a whole catalogue of legacies, 

204 Gerber, Lexicon, II., App., p. 60; it is now unfortunately lost. 
os See ante, Vol. I., p. 339. 


and then divided the remainder among ten legatees, 
five of whom, in agreement with her husband's will, were 
his nearest relations and five her own. The will was read 
September 26, 1721 ; and at first the distribution was agreed 
to, the legacies were deducted, and the residue divided into 
ten equal parts. It was not till after this that the idea 
occurred to some of Tobias Lammerhirt's relations that his 
will might be interpreted to their greater advantage. They 
demanded for their share, first, half of the whole fortune left 
by Tobias Lammerhirt, and they calculated that it should 
amount to 5,507 thl., 6 gr. Out of the other half, the 
legacies left by the widow should then be paid and the 
residue divided into ten portions. A petition to this effect 
was filed January 24, 1722, in the names of the five rela- 
tions who preferred the claim namely, Joh. Christoph Bach, 
of Ohrdruf, Joh. Jakob Bach, Joh. Sebastian Bach, Maria 
Salome Wiegand born Bach and Anna Christine Zimmer- 
mann born Lammerhirt the daughter of a brother of 
Tobias Lammerhirt. But practically it emanated only from 
the two last-named petitioners, who, to give the claim more 
weight, had taken for granted the consent of the brothers 
Bach in this proceeding. 

The carelessness with which they had gone to work 
may be understood when we remember that Christoph 
Bach had been already dead ever since February 22, 1721 ; 
at the same time they had given the attorney who had 
drawn up the document such insufficient information that 
he allowed Jakob Bach, of Stockholm, to answer for the 
consent of his brother Sebastian, of Cothen ; though it 
might also be inferred from this that they, knowing his 
magnanimous nature, simply dared not mention the trans- 
action to him at all. In point of fact, it was only through a 
third person that it came to Sebastian's knowledge. He at 
once sent the following letter to the Council of Erfurt : 



It is already known to your worships how that I and my 
brother, Joh. Jacob Bach (at present in the service of the King ot 
Sweden), are co-heirs under the will of the late Lemmerhirt. Because 


whereas I learn by hearsay that the other co-heirs are minded to bring 
a lawsuit with regard to this will, and whereas I and my absent 
brother have not been served with a notice, since I am not minded to 
dispute the Lemmerhirt will by law, but am quite satisfied with what 
is thereby given and allotted to me and my brother, I desire by this 
letter to renounce on my own part, and sub cautione rati nomine on my 
brother's part, all part in any such lawsuit, and to have it ratified by 
the usual form of protest. I have, therefore, esteemed it necessary 
humbly to lay this letter before your Worships, with due submission, 
and to beg you favourably to receive this my protest and renunciation, 
and that of my brother, and to restore whatever is to come to us out 
of the money, both that which has already been paid in and that which 
yet remains, for which great favour I beg humbly to thank you, and 

Your Worships' 

Most devoted servant, 


Capellmeister to the Prince of Anhalt-Cothen. 
COTHEN, March 15, Ao. 1722. 

(Addressed to) The most noble, prudent, learned, and judicious 
Gentlemen, the Provosts, Burgomasters, Syndic, and other members of 
the Council, more particularly to my most gracious masters and patrons 
in Erffurth. 206 

After this emphatic declaration, no steps could be taken 
to initiate the proceedings, and no documents exist which 
have any bearing on the matter. To hinder the unfilial 
conduct of his relations, Sebastian came forward at once in 
the name of his brother Jakob, whose opinion he was sure 
would be identical with his own. Joh. Jakob Bach, after 
quitting his quiet home, in I7O4, 207 had been a brave follower 
of Charles XII. of Sweden through all his wild campaigns, 
had taken part in the battle of Pultawa, and had followed 
his royal leader as far as Bender, in Turkey. There he had 
remained on duty till 1713, and then obtained leave to retire 
in peace to Stockholm as Court Musician there. But first 
he had gone from Bender to Constantinople, and had there 
studied playing the flute under Pierre Gabriel Buffardin 
(afterwards Chamber Musician at Dresden and teacher 
of the famous Quantz), who happened to be there in 

108 This letter, and the documents on which the petition was based, are in 
the town archives of Erfurt, Part IV., No. 116. I owe my knowledge of this 
letter to Herr Ludwig Meinardus, of Hamburg. 

*>7 See Vol. I., p. 235. 


the suite of the French Ambassador, and who afterwards 
related the circumstances to Sebastian Bach. 208 Whether 
he then passed through Germany to Sweden and took that 
opportunity of visiting his relations in Thuringia we have no 
means of knowing. It can be proved that he received his 
salary from the privy purse of the Court of Stockholm from 
1713 till 1721 inclusive. He must have died in 1722, hardly 
more than forty years old, and probably much broken by 
the terrible fatigues of the Russian campaign. Thus he 
probably never even heard of the circumstances under which 
Sebastian had answered for him, while Sebastian had to 
mourn the loss of this the last of his brothers, not long after 
the death of Joh. Christoph, who had formerly been his 
teacher, and of another highly esteemed relative. 209 

Thus, between joy and sorrow, more than four years 
were passed at Cothen; but that which lay at the foundation 
of Bach's happiness there remained unchanged. The eager 
and intelligent interest the Prince took in his art had enabled 
him entirely to forget how narrow was the musical circle 
within which he moved there, its exclusive limitation to 
chamber-music, and the absence of all development in the 
direction of sacred composition. Since, however, it was for 
this that Bach must have felt himself especially fitted, 
nothing was needed but some external impulse to make him 
aware that his genius would not permit him to set up his 
tent for the rest of his life in this spot, however delightful 
he might feel it. This impetus was given by the Prince's 
marriage. His wife had no love of music, and she absorbed 
her husband's whole attention, all the more because she 
was delicate and needed every care. The Prince's interest 
in music seemed falling off, and it now suddenly became clear 
to Bach that it was no part of his work in life to make his 
transcendent gifts subservient to one single dilettante prince. 

808 According to the Genealogy and Fiirstenau, II., p. 95. 

* 09 Johann Jakob left no children ; I cannot even find out whether he ever 
married. In the private accounts of the Court of Sweden he figures as 
" Johann Jakob Back." The salary, for various obvious reasons, was not then 
paid with great punctuality, so that " Back " almost every year had to prefer a 
petition to the crown for arrears of pay. This occurred for the last time in 
1723, and the payment was probably made to his relations in Germany. 


In the letter to Erdmann, before quoted, 210 he states this 
in plain terms. " From my youth up," he writes, " my fate 
has been known to you until the last change which took me 
to Cothen. There lives a gracious Prince who both loves 
and understands music, and with him I purposed to spend the 
closing term of my life. However, as it fell out, the above- 
mentioned Serenissimus married a Princess of Berenburg, 
and as then it began to appear as though the said Prince's 
musical inclination was growing somewhat lukewarm, and at 
the same time the new Princess seemed to despise my art, 
it was the will of God that I should be called to be Director 
Musices here, and Cantor in the Thomas Schule. Still, at 
first it did not perfectly suit me to become Cantor from 
having been Capellmeister, for which reason my resolution 
was delayed for a quarter of a year ; however, this position 
was described to me as so favourable that at last, particularly 
as my sons seemed to incline to study here, I ventured in the 
name of the Highest and betook myself to Leipzig, passed 
my examination, and then undertook the move to Leipzig." 

It is clear, however, that the temporary cooling of the 
Prince's interest in music was in fact only the external 
impetus to a step for which the necessity lay in the general 
conditions of Bach's artistic nature ; and we see this in the 
fact that his decision remained unaltered, although that 
"music-hating" personage, the Princess Friederike Henriette, 
died so early as April 4, 1723, and it was not till May that he 
pledged himself in Leipzig to take the place of Cantor to 
the school of St. Thomas. Meanwhile the obsequies of the 
deceased Princess took place in Cothen without any musical 
adjuncts. 211 The Prince married for the second time, June 2, 
1725, Charlotte Frederike Wilhelmine, a Princess of Nassau 

Though Bach had to quit the spot where his patron resided, 

810 See ante, p. 147. 

211 The funeral sermon preached on the occasion was published in folio, with 
all the poems in praise and lamentation of the deceased Princess, in 1724. 
Among them there is no funeral cantata or text for music of any kind to which 
Bach could have composed. The castle library at Cothen possesses a copy of 
these memorials, which is graced with an engraved portrait of the Princess. 


he continued to be his honorary Capellmeister. 212 In this 
capacity he composed for November 30, 1726, in honour of 
the first birthday of the second Princess after her marriage, 
a congratulatory cantata for which the Leipzig "occasional" 
poet Christian Friedrich Henrici or Picander, as he 
was wont to style himself composed the words. 213 It 
begins with a chorus, "Steigt freudig in die Luft zu den 
erhabnen Hohen " " Rejoice and soar aloft to distant 
heights ethereal " (D major, 3-4 time) ; this is followed by 
four recitatives, alternating with three graceful airs, of 
which the second is much the most interesting, not unin- 
tentionally perhaps, since it is written for a bass voice, 
and Prince Leopold himself was a good bass singer. The 
finale consists of a cheerful homophonic chorus in a gavotte 
rhythm, and little recitative subjects are introduced ; its 
beginning, it may be observed incidentally, is almost identical 
with the theme of Beethoven's Choral Fantasia. This 
pleasing, though not very important, work was afterwards 
adapted, with the text somewhat altered, to another birth- 
day ode, and finally it was remodelled into a cantata for 
the first Sunday in Advent, where the recitatives are elimi- 
nated and chorale arrangements inserted in their place. 214 
Not long after, this beloved patron ended his short life, 
November 19, I728, 215 and Bach had to contribute to 
the funeral solemnity. This he did by composing a 
grand mourning ode (Trauer Musik) which he himself con- 
ducted at Cothen in 1729, probably early in the year. The 
musical performers he took with him from Leipzig (he had 
most likely done the same for the birthday cantata); in 
Cothen itself nothing of the kind could have been got up. 

" n So says the genealogy. This connection must still have existed in the 
year 1735. 

i They are printed in " Picander's | Ernst- Schertzhafft | und | Satyrische | 
Gedichte | MitKupffern. | Leipzig, | in Commission zuhaben bey Boetio. | Anno 
1727," p. 14. 

au It is given in this form, B.-G., VII., No. 36. See the preface and appendix 
to that volume. 

J16 Not November 17, as is stated in J. Ch. Krause's History of the House 
of Anhalt. 


The text was again by Picander. 216 It consists of four parts, 
and is intended for a double choir. The music was still in 
existence in 1819 ; it then vanished leaving no trace, perhaps 
for ever, and we have nothing to indemnify us for this 
loss but the enthusiastic praise of its last possessor; 217 
there can be no doubt that the master would have put forth 
his whole strength in it. Thus death broke the tie which 
distance could not sever. 

It must have been with a heavy and sorrowful heart that 
Bach moved to Cothen; 218 but what Cothen could give him 
was now a thing of the past. More than five years almost 
exclusively devoted to instrumental chamber music had 
invigorated his genius from the purest and freshest fountain 
of musical art, and he now could aim directly at that 
sublime goal which he was born to reach. 

He had turned the time to good account. We have tried 
to glance over the vast mass of chamber compositions which 
were written some certainly and some probably in Cothen. 
Still there are wanting to the complete picture the two 
works which, with the Inventions and Sinfonias, represent 
the highest summit of his clavier compositions at that period; 
these are the French Suites and the " Wohltemperirte 

The French Suites are, as has been said, contained for 
the most part in Anna Magdalena's first book, and almost 
fill it. 219 The name "French" was given to them later, 
without the master's concurrence, on account of the meagre 
form of their component sections, which, even in external 
dimensions, adhere as closely as possible to the dance type 
on which they are founded. In this respect they offer a 
conspicuous contrast to the broad symphonic forms of the 

i Picander's | bis anhero herausgegebene | Ernst-Scherzhafte | und | 
Satyrische | Gedichte, | auf das neue iibersehen, | und in einer bessern Wahl 
und Ordnung | an das Licht gestellet. | Vierte Auflage." | Part I., p. 328. 
Leipzig, 1748. 

417 This was Forkel, who died 1818. He mentions it on p. 36. 

818 Mizler, Nekrology, p. 166. 

P. S., I., C. 7 (Vol. 202). B.-G., XIII., 2, pp. 89-127. See Appendix A, 
No. n. 


later partitas and the " English " Suites, as they are called. 
Beyond this there is no idea of imitating or carrying out 
any specially French characteristics ; none such are to be 
discerned anywhere in Bach, nor could they be possible 
except in his very earliest work. 220 It would be more 
natural to detect a certain affinity with the Suites of Georg 
Bohm, who, no doubt, for his part, was strongly influenced 
by French art ; but this affinity even is only one of feeling. 
The arrangement of the French Suites is always that which 
has already been fully described Allemande, Courante, Sara- 
band, Giga, are the essential sections ; between the last two 
pieces intermezzi are introduced. Not one of them has a 
prelude ; there would seem to have been one originally to 
the fourth, which was afterwards cut out for the sake of 
uniformity. 221 The whole work does not give the impression 
of being a collection made or determined by accident ; on 
the contrary, it is arranged with artistic intelligence a whole 
cast in one mould. As in the Inventions and the Sinfonias, 
we here too find a considerable number of " Paralipomena " 
which prove the care with which the master selected the 
best. No less than three complete suites exist besides 
these, and identical with them as to the character of the 
details and the whole arrangement. They are in A minor, 
E flat major, and E minor, and are so admirable that only 
something of very superior beauty could have a right to 
displace them. 222 

It was careful consideration which gave the first place 
in the French Suites to three in minor keys (D minor, 
C minor, B minor) and the last to three in major keys 

820 Compare Vol I., pp. 202 and 210. 

221 It is to be found in the Royal Library at Berlin, in a MS. copy, press 
mark P. 289. 

222 P. S., I., C. 3 (Vol. 214), Nos. 6, 7, and 8. Besides these there are a Prelude, 
Saraband, and Giga in F minor (P. S., I., C. 9, Vol. 212, No. 17); and in MS. 
Allemande and Giga in C minor ; Prelude, Fugue, Saraband, and Giga in C 
minor. This last work seems to hesitate between the clavier and the violin, 
and perhaps, as it lies before us now, it is only an arrangement of a violin piece. 
Ph. Em. Bach is our authority for its genuineness. In other manuscripts in 
the Royal Library at Berlin are to be found the beginnings of the subjects in 
the thematic catalogue, p. 84, No. 2. The two first-named pieces are in the 
same Library, but in a more modern MS. 


(E flat major, G major, E major). But even the minor 
Suites are of a pensive and elegiac character rather than 
profound or grave, and the giga at the close gives a sense 
of vigorous and elastic reaction. The giga of the D minor 
Suite is exceptional in form ; it is in common time, and 
strides on heavily and steadily almost like the grave move- 
ment of a French overture. A most delightful feeling 
pervades the three last Suites a happy mood of joy and 
blessing ; a sentiment of content that the world is so fair and 
that men may rejoice in its beauty ; a radiance as of spring 
sunshine and an atmosphere as of the scent of violets prevail 
throughout. Truly, indeed, Antimelancholicus. The separate 
numbers are each more beautiful than the other in their 
indescribable and constantly varying charm. It would be in 
vain to try to say anything of each in particular. The forms 
are of the very simplest. Schumann once observed 223 there 
were some things in the world of which nothing can be said 
for instance, of the C major Symphony with fugue by Mozart, 
and a few things by Beethoven : if we add of many things 
by Bach, particularly of the French Suites, this still remains 
quite within Schumann's meaning. And that this very work 
had quite captivated a spirit so nearly akin to that of Bach 
himself he unintentionally proved by the resemblance which 
exists in one of his string quartets to the gavotte in the 
E major Suite. 224 

Many independent examples have already shown us the 
transcendent mastery which Bach had achieved in the fugue, 
chiefly on the organ, but also on the clavier. It must have 
occurred to him often to collect a number of compositions of 
this type, and arrange them in a single work. He accom- 
plished this in the year 1722, and gave the work the following 
title : " Das wohl temperirte Clavier oder Praehidia und 
Fugen durch alle Tone und Semitonia so wohl tertiam majorem 
oder Ut Re Mi anlangend, als auch tertiam minorem oder 
Re Mi Fa betreffend. Zum Nutzen und Gebrauch der 
Lehrbegierigen Musicalischen Jugend als auch derer in 

* Gesammelte Schriften, I., p. 198 (of ist Ed.)- 

M * The Qitasi Trio in the finale to the Quartet in A major, Op. 41, No. 3 
II. M 


diesem Studio schon habil seyenden besondern Zeit Vertreib 
aufgesetzet und verfertiget von Johann Sebastian Bach p. t. 
Hochfurstl. Anhalt. Cothenischen Capell-M cistern und Direc- 
tors derer Cammer-Musiquen. Anno 1722." (" The well- 
tempered Clavier, or preludes and fugues in all the tones 
and semitones, both with the major third or ' Ut, Re, Mi,' 
and with the minor third, or ' Re, Mi, Fa.' For the use and 
practice of young musicians who desire to learn, as well as 
for those who are already skilled in this study, by way of 
amusement; made and composed by Johann Sebastian Bach, 
Capellmeister to the Grand Duke of Anhalt-Cothen and 
Director of his chamber-music. In the year 1722.") Thus the 
instructive purpose is here distinctly set forth, and it was 
this certainly which prompted the principle on which the 
order of the collection was based a course, namely, through 
all the twenty-four keys, major and minor, a few of which 
at that time were never used at all ; so that it was Bach 
who, by his new principles of fingering and his method of 
tuning the clavier, first made them accessible. 225 Even in 
this the instructional aim stands out in all its simplicity, 
since Bach has not arranged the twenty-four keys according 
to the rule of their relationship, as Heinichen had laid it 
down ten years previously in his Musikalische Zirkel, 
but in simple chromatic order. And this direct simplicity 
is equally characteristic of the separate compositions : they 
are bereft of all superficial embellishment ; the severest 
solidity and chastest treatment, purposeful to the very last 
note, is the stamp of them all. 

By far the larger number of them, at any rate, were 
written by Bach during the Cb'then period ; probably all 
under the same impulse, and quickly one after the other. A 
trustworthy tradition informs us that this was in a place and 
under circumstances when he was deprived of all musical 
occupation nay, even of any instrument whatever; he strove 
to preserve himself against depression and tedium by such 

126 Heinichen, in his Generalbasslehre, p. 511, 17, says, " Nowadays we 
play but rarely B major and A flat major, and pieces are never set in F sharp 
major or C sharp major." This was published in 1728. 


an exercise as this. 226 This very possibly occurred during 
that journey on which he had to accompany the Prince. 
Still this work is not cast in a single mould like the French 
Suites or the Inventions and Sinfonias ; in the first place, 
some of the fugues, though but a few, bear clear traces 
of an earlier origin; also they are not all of them duly 
thought out and connected with their preludes. The older 
handling most conspicuously betrays itself in the fugue in A 
minor, first by the pedal note which enters at the end a 
license which we have already noticed in different places, 
and which was altogether abjured by the composer in 
riper years. Besides, from this pedal note it is clear 
that the fugue was originally written for the harpischord. 
Thus, it is in opposition to the intention of the whole 
collection, which is properly intended to be performed on 
the clavichord. When we consider the position given to the 
clavichord by Bach, this is almost self-evident in a work like 
the Wohltemperirte Clavier : it is shown, however, by bars 
15 and 16 of the E flat minor fugue, where each time the 
upper part is not continued up from c" f flat to d"' flat, because 
this last note was lacking in most clavichords ; and, moreover, 
by bar 30 of the A minor fugue, where on account of the 
limited compass the regular imitation in the right hand is 
altered. 227 In like manner the bass does not go below C, 
except in the case of some unimportant doubling of octaves, 
though the harpischord had a larger compass both ways, 
which Bach employed without hesitation. 228 But, moreover, 
the A minor fugue is an evident imitation of one of 
Buxtehude's organ fugues in the same key. 229 This deserves 
special description. 

First there comes a working-out in motu recto till bar 14, 

226 Gerber, Lexicon, I., col. 80. The tradition is trustworthy for this reason 
that the lexicographer would have heard it from his father Heinrich Gerber, 
who was Bach's pupil in Leipzig soon after 1722. 

227 In the second part of the Wohltemperirte Clavier no d" 1 flat occurs 
with the single exception of the A flat major prelude. 

328 Compare in the overture in the partite in D major (Clavieriibung, Part I., 
No. 4), bars 68-70 and 90-91 of the fugue, and for the three- stroke octave many 
passages in the Goldberg variations. 

229 Comp. Vol. I., p. 276. 

M 2 


then in motu contrario till bar 27 ; then a stretto in motu recto 
till bar 48, stretto in motu contrario till bar 64 ; at this point 
there follows a stretto in two parts in motu recto, and in two 
others in motu contrario, then another such stretto between 
the alto and bass parts in F major, and finally from bar 76 
the theme is brought in in inverted motion, the response a 
note higher in direct motion, and a stretto in direct motion 
from bar So, and then a close on a pedal point. The playing 
about between direct and inverted motion is exactly the same 
in Buxtehude's fugue, only that he extended the structure, in 
his own way, by change of rhythm and episodical treatment, 
adding a coda rich in ornamental passages. Bach retains 
externally a greater concentration, but his whole plan appears 
to have been thought out collectively and coolly rather than 
conceived directly in the imagination. The fugue is somewhat 
scholastic, is lacking in emotional development, and has no 
climaxes. One chief reason is that the theme is not adapted 
for such extended strettos, which move chiefly in intervals of 
sixths and thirds, and so sound only like harmonies support- 
ing the theme, while they display much harmonic and poly- 
phonic development ; the rhythm is also tedious. The 
inversion of the theme is even less happy. The characteristic 
skip of the seventh from F to G sharp is inverted, and in the 
inversion seems not like a necessary sequence of the melody, 
but like an unmelodic arbitrary transposition of the theme 
into the higher octaves, since the ear demands at each 
repetition of the passage to be carried up a semitone higher. 
The tonality is also uncertain, the theme wandering from 
minor to major and from major to minor. One glance at 
the fugue in B flat minor in the second part of the Wohltem- 
perirte Clavier, which is quite similar in scheme, is all that 
is necessary in order to see how the mature master dealt with 
materials of this kind. We can hardly be wrong in assigning 
the A minor fugue to the years 1707 or 1708. The G sharp 
minor fugue, too, is more or less clearly recognisable as a work 
of his youth. The theme strikes us as somewhat stiff, when 
contrasted with the incomparable elasticity of other subjects 
by Bach ; the counterpoint in chords, which is of frequent 
occurrence here, is well enough in Buxtehude, Buttstedt, 


and other composers of the older generation, but we do not 
expect it in Bach, any more than we do the repetition of one 
and the same phrase in a higher octave. In its manner of 
treatment certain similarities with a fugue in A minor before 
mentioned 230 are apparent, which is of the same date as this, 
but much more graceful and charming. 231 

With reference to the Preludes, Robert Schumann who 
in certain respects was the most competent judge of Bach's 
work in recent times was of opinion that many of them 
had no original connection with the Fugues. 282 In fact we 
already know that Bach cultivated the prelude as an inde- 
pendent form ; 2S3 and it can moreover be proved, not only that 
all the preludes of both parts of the Wohltemperirte Clavier 
had been collected into an independent whole by Bach him- 
self, even without the fugues which is certain from the state 
of an autograph copy to be fully described elsewhere but 
also that several of those belonging to the first part were 
originally conceived of as independent compositions. For 
instance, in Friedemann Bach's Little Clavier Book, which 
was begun in 1720, we find in an isolated form the eleven 
preludes in C major, C minor, D minor, D major, E minor, 
E major, F major, C sharp major, C sharp minor, E flat 
minor, and F minor. There is not, on the face of it, the 
smallest ground for assuming that these were less inde- 
pendent pieces than the other preludes in this volume, but 
their distinct origin is all the more surely proved by the fact 
that several of them are used in the Wohltemperirte Clavier 
as subjects of a more extensive elaboration. This can be 
demonstrated as regards the preludes in C major, C minor, 

230 Compare Vol. I., p. 433. 

231 The opinion that several youthful works are contained in the first part of 
the Wohltemperirte Clavier is given by Forkel (p. 55), who, I believe, derived 
much general information from Bach's sons. I cannot approve of his judgment 
in particular points: especially he is in evident error when he takes the fugues 
in C major and F minor for early works. Those in F major, G major, and G 
minor seem to me not to belong to the most important in the collection, but I 
can find no indication of their being of a different date from the most important 
of the set. 

282 Gesammelte Schriften, II., p. 102. 
gee Vol. I., p. 432. 


D minor and E minor. 234 Nor is it difficult to perceive that 
the feeling frequently does not altogether harmonise with that 
of the fugue, particularly in the case of the C major prelude ; 
and the insignificant A minor prelude is not in its place as 
leading to the fugue that follows, a stately piece of workman- 
ship, attired in all the panoply of its race. 

Nevertheless the Wohltemperirte Clavier, as a whole, 
remains a masterpiece among Bach's instrumental works. 
All of it that does not stand on the very highest eminence is 
important enough to hold its place worthily ; otherwise the 
master who criticised himself so severely and so con- 
stantly would certainly have cast it out ; he would have been 
in no difficulty to find a substitute. That he himself set a 
high value on the work is proved by the three copies extant in 
his own handwriting (possibly, indeed, a fourth) an unusual 
number for a work of such extent. However, he hardly can 
have thought of publishing it, though Mattheson challenged 
" the famous Herr Bach, of Leipzig, who is a great Master 
of Fugue," in print, to do something of the kind. 285 This 
profoundly conceived and original music could have no suc- 
cess with the ordinary class of clavier-playing amateurs, and 
Mattheson described the organists of the time as ignorant 
folks, ready enough to take lucrative places, but who would do 
nothing and learn nothing " but what they might pick up by 
chance." Bach used the work as material for the practice 
and improvement of his advanced pupils, 236 and at a later 
period composed, as a fellow work to this, twenty-four more 
preludes and fugues, which we shall discuss in their proper 
place. They are usually included in the work now under 
consideration under the general title of the "Well-tempered 
Clavier," though this name was originally given by Bach to 
the older series only. 237 

234 The C major prelude is given in the supplement (No. 5) to this work in the 
form in which it exists in Friedemann Bach's Little Book. See also App. A, No. 12. 

235 Vollkommener Capellmeister, p. 441, 66. 

236 Gerber, Lexicon, I., col. 492. 

28 ? Of the different editions I will here name only that of the B.-G., XIV., 
edited by Franz Kroll. In the introduction to it there is a very careful enumera- 
tion of the various MSS. and printed editions. With reference to an auto- 
graph copy, hitherto unknown, see App. A, No. 13. 


In considering the general aesthetic aspect of this work, 
what is most striking is the wonderful variety in the 
character of the twenty-four fugues, each of which is 
entirely different from all the rest. This is equally true 
even of the least important ; and the endeavour after 
variety was probably the reason why Bach selected 
characteristic pieces from among the works of his earlier 
time. The preludes are no less various, though most of 
them are kept in one and the same form that, namely, 
to which Bach was accustomed to adhere in his independent 
preludes ; the whole subject is worked out from an animated 
phrase that sometimes becomes definite enough to be 
called a theme, but often is only distinct in rhythm, or 
wanders on dreamily from one harmony to another. A 
model of this form of composition, of which we have already 
pointed out several examples, is the famous C major prelude, 
a piece of indescribable fascination, in which a grand and 
beatific melody seems to float past, like the song of an angel 
heard in the silence of night through the murmur of trees, 
groves, and waters. The fugue belonging to it is worked up, 
and not without good reason, to the highest pitch of finish 
and intricacy ; it was to hold its high position with fitting 
dignity. A marvellous art is displayed in the various strettos 
on the fifth, octave, third, seventh, and fourth, which are 
brought in by turns at the third, fifth, and seventh quavers, 
for the most part in double counterpoint ; in the direct and 
inverted motions of the counter-subject, and its treatment 
with counterpoint at the twelfth. 238 It is no light task even 
for the player. The theme of the fugue begins on the second 
quaver of the bar, and it must be noted that the fervid 
and culminating force which is characteristic of Bach is 
here strongly marked ; for it is not till nearly a bar later 
that we feel the strongest accent, though all that has gone 
before has tended towards it with peculiar yearning. It is 
an internal crescendo, to which, in playing it, the master 
would also have given as much expression as possible. By 
far the greater number of his clavier fugues are constructed 

Compare Kirnberger, Kunst des reinen Satzes, II., 2, p. 192 f. 


in the same or a similar way. Of the forty-eight numbers 
of the two parts of the Wohltemperirte Clavier, eighteen 
begin after the first quaver (or semiquaver, as it may 
be), seven after the first crotchet, and three after the 
first crotchet and a half. Indeed, in most of Bach's other 
clavier fugues for instance, in those in E minor, F sharp 
minor, and C minor the same is observable. In the whole 
two parts of the Wohltemperirte Clavier only fourteen 
themes begin with the bar, and only six at the half bar. 

In the organ fugues the conditions are somewhat different: 
here the entrance of the theme with the bars predominates ; 
still, instances to the contrary are to be found, particularly 
in early works, where they are not unfrequent ; and here it is 
all the more perceptible, because the organ is incapable oi 
accent, and therefore the feeling of the true rhythmical 
value can only be given gradually, and by other means. 
Bach had to submit to the natural conditions of the instru- 
ment, and subsequently restricted his use of these modes 
of utterance, full of internal emotion and unrest, to the more 
sympathetic clavier ; but on this instrument he still further 
developed this rhythmical extension, of which the F sharp 
minor fugue in the second part of the Wohltemperirte 
Clavier is an admirable example. 289 The C minor prelude 
has the same general plan, still, irrespective of the key, it is 
both sadder and more intricate ; the motive does not consist 
merely in a broken chord, but has besides something of a 
melodic character nay, towards the close a vehement 
passion betrays itself. Even its indescribably graceful and 
charming fugue, which has something peculiarly piquant in 
the bold use of false relations in the harmony, is not devoid 
of pensive passages. 240 

We have already studied the C sharp major prelude as 
the finished sketch for the invention in two parts ; this with 
the fifth, ninth, and twelfth are in one category. This, 
however, refers only to its first and shortest form, which was 
subsequently extended to nearly forty bars. It may be 
remembered that Bach had originally called the Inventions 

239 See Vol. I., p. 253. 

240 Marpurg gives an analysis of it. Kritische Briefe, I., p. 218. 


" Preambles." In this, as in those, both hands are employed 
alternately in working out a complete melodic phrase, and 
an extremely graceful composition is evolved, sporting gaily 
up and down. The fine fugue, which carries out and 
intensifies the happy and vigorous sentiment of this prelude, 
is based on a bold theme which only the mind of a genius 
could have devised. 

The C sharp minor prelude is more akin to a type of work 
which we have already had occasion to notice in the com- 
positions of the later Weimar period; it is founded on a real 
theme worked out in imitation. 241 The triple fugue in five 
parts, which follows it, suits admirably with this noble 
and deeply pathetic movement ; it is one of the grandest 
creations in the whole realm of clavier music. The main 
theme, consisting of four notes, massive as if hewn out of 
granite, is associated, after the thirty-fifth bar, with another 
in a smooth flow in quavers, and finally, in bar 49, with 
a more energetic and insistant one ; and then, for sixteen 
bars more, it expands into a composition of such vast breadth 
and sublimity, of such stupendous almost overwhelming 
harmonic power, that Bach himself has created but few to 
equal it. It is as though we were drifting rapidly over a 
wide ocean ; wave rises over wave crested with foam, as far 
as the eye can reach, and the brooding heavens bend solemnly 
over the mighty scene the surging forces of nature and 
helpless, devoted humanity. 

The preludes in D major and D minor are wrought out 
on ornate motives in semiquavers, and they are almost 
exclusively in two parts or homophonic. The first is graceful 
and playful, the second restless and yearning. The D major 
fugue has a very distinctive character ; it seems to march 
in defiantly, and then stride on proudly with a somewhat 
rigid dignity. A not inconsiderable space is taken up by 
some highly interesting episodical figures, which are 
rendered necessary by the peculiar structure and the 
brevity of the theme ; after bar 17 it never appears again, 
and it is precisely here that the composition attains its 

211 See Vol. I., p. 590. 


greatest brilliancy from the contrasts suggested by the 
theme : sudden bursts and pathetic grandeur developed 
side by side. The D minor fugue is remarkable for 
its artistic inversions and strettos, and the extraordinary 
economy it displays in the use of musical material ; the 
expression is bitter and capricious, as the composer's humour 
could be at times. 242 

A very peculiar composition lies before us in the E flat 
major prelude. It is broadly, artistically, and firmly con- 
structed, in four parts on two themes; but they are first 
carried through independently, one after the other, in a free 
and, as it were, explanatory manner the agitato theme first, 
to bar 10, then the calmer one in crotchets and minims as 
far as bar 25. The strong contrast between the two phrases 
reminds us at once of the toccata form as Bach was wont to 
begin it ; indeed, we are already acquainted with a similar 
instance of explanatory treatment. 243 What was attempted 
rather than achieved in the last movement of the D minor 
toccata is here carried out with perfect mastery in every 
respect. The feeling is most noble, deep, and purposeful. 
All this, of course, tells to the disadvantage of the fugue that 
follows it, which, notwithstanding its grace and sweetness, is 
too light when compared with the prelude, which, properly 
speaking, ought only to lead up to it and prepare us for it. 
The two pieces cannot possibly have been originally designed 
at the same time ; Bach must have wished to make use of 
the lovely toccata movement in this work, and as it was too 
ponderous as a true prelude, he inverted the order for once, 
and intentionally supplemented it with a very short fugue 
in three parts, and not above half as long. 

The prelude in E flat minor is one of those which bears 
the clearest stamp of genius. From this germ 

which is applied in various ways first in the right hand and 

844 This fugue is exhaustively analysed by S. W. Dehn, Analysen dreier 
Fugen aus Joh. Seb. Bach Wohltemperirten Clavier und einer Doppel-fuge 
A. M. Bononcini's, pp. i 7. Leipzig: C. F. Peters, 1858. 

a* 8 See Vol. I., p. 437. 


then in the left, now dismembered, now lost in figurations, 
while this rhythm J J J..| follows it all through in 
ponderous chords is developed a piece unique among Bach's 
works. The triumph achieved here by episodical art is all 
the greater because we are quite unconscious of it under the 
spell-bound feeling which envelopes us, heavy and oppressive 
as a sultry stormy evening, when not a breath is stirring and 
lurid lightning flickers along the horizon. From bar 29 the 
sentiment is sad as death, and the change to the major at 
the close is awful. The three-part fugue suits this to per- 
fection : a real ricercar again, and the only piece of the first 
part in which he has availed himself of the enlargement 
of the theme (bar 62 ff). Art is here raised to such a pitch 
that, after all the strettos and inversions that we are already 
familiar with have been applied, from the sixty-second bar 
the theme is carried on in augmentation as well as in the 
ordinary form, both at once, and in direct as well as inverted 
motion ; and from bar 77 in all the three parts. This closely 
compacted fabric of parts leaves an impression of nervous 
excitation, of anxious and passionate seeking, and at the same 
time we still hear the passages of the upper part in bars 15 
and 16, and 48 to 52 : the same form as we find again in the 
contrapuntal violin part to the chorale " Ich ruf zu dir, Herr 
Jesu Christ, ich bitt, erhor mein Klagen" which forms the 
finale of the cantata " Barmherziges Herze der ewigen 
Liebe" 244 "All-merciful heart of the love everlasting." This 
fugue made so deep an impression on Ludwig Krebs that he 
attempted to compose an imitation of it. 245 

We have in E major a bright and charming prelude 
worked out on a motive of six quavers, and the fugue is still 
more delightful, with its theme that sets out with an 
audacious leap and then proceeds so deliberately. To do any- 
thing like full justice to Bach's incredible flow of invention 
we must study other fugues of this period, in which it is 
conspicuous in the endless variety of the themes; they are 
so many pictures which once known and understood can 
never be forgotten. 

" See Vol. I., p. 546. 

846 In A minor. In MS. in my possession. 


The E minor prelude, as we now have it, is the working- 
out of a little piece which was written for Friedemann Bach, 
and, as it would seem, to exercise the left hand ; semi- 
quavers roll up and down, while the right hand strikes short 
chords. With that mastery which was his alone, Bach has 
devised an independent melody for the bass. It is evident 
that the ideal form he had in his mind was the adagio 
movement of the Italian Violin Sonata, of which he has 
left us such admirable specimens in his own Sonatas. 
From bar 23 the bass motive is subjected (in a quicker 
tempo) to a farther elaboration in both hands, and it rises by 
degrees from two parts to four. This most original prelude 
is followed by an equally remarkable fugue, the only one in 
two parts in the whole work. A liberty quite unheard of for 
a two-part fugue is the use of unison which occurs twice, 
bars 19 and 38 : a license which we do not expect to meet with 
in Bach's work, and least of all here. There are, however, a 
few places from which we learn that the master did not 
scorn even these means when he required a particular effect. 
We have already noticed one, in the cantata "Bereitet die 
Wege," where, in the first recitative, the voices and instru- 
mental bass twice concur in ascending and descending pas- 
sages in unison, as an illustration of the union of the Chris- 
tian with his Redeemer. 246 Another example is in the wild 
first movement of the Sonata in G minor for viol di gamba ; 
a third occurs in the little G minor " Preamble " in Friede- 
mann Bach's Little Book, the fifth bar from the end, 247 and a 
fourth in the Burlesca of the A minor partita in the first part 
of the Clavier Uebung, bar 16 of the second section. 248 And 
in the E minor fugue under discussion the object is unmis- 
takably a peculiar effect. On both occasions the parts do 
not coalesce in their natural course, but one breaks in 
assertively and wilfully on the quiet flow of the other. This 
character of wilful caprice, indeed of pugnacity, is stamped 
on the whole fugue, and is still farther confirmed by the 

2415 See Vol. I., p. 558. Note 273. 

247 P. S., i, C 9, No. 16, XI. (200). 

W8 B.-G., III., p. 78. P. S., i, C. 5, III. 


pertinacious assertiveness of the semiquavers that force 
their way through the maze of sounds. 

The prelude and fugue in F major are pleasing and 
sweet, but have no conspicuous peculiarities of form. The 
following pair, on the contrary, in F minor, are deep and 
passionate ; the prelude is fine, founded almost throughout 
on this motive 

and the theme alone 

sufficiently proves that the Fugue is worked out on the 
broadest lines. 

The prelude in F sharp major again is a two-part com- 
position, and, with its happy sportive fugue, it forms an 
indescribably delightful whole. That in F sharp minor 
starts from a motive in rolling semiquavers one bar in 
length, which is then developed with the most wonderful 
imaginativeness ; the form is crisp and round, the sentiment 
sad and weird. This truly Bach-like counterpoint 

is used in contrast to the long-winded fugal theme in 
3-4 time, and in the progress of the fugue it increases in 
intensity, particularly from bar 35 onwards, by coming 
out in doubled thirds and sixths. This is the kind of 
counterpoint Kirnberger means when he says : 249 " When the 
cantus floridus (where more than one note is opposed to 
one) is the composer's intention, Bach adopts at once 
a definite phrase to which he adheres throughout the 
piece." In this wide sense the statement is certainly not 
accurate ; on the contrary, it is precisely in the invention 
of constantly new counterpoint that Bach is so great and 
inexhaustible. Kirnberger, however, as may be seen by 

349 Gedanken iiber die verschiedenen Lehrarten in der Composition, p. 8. 
Berlin, 1782. 


the context, had something quite different in his mind 
namely, the skill with which Bach was wont to work out 
his counterpoint from the first counter-subject, for it was by 
this means that he attained in great measure that admirable 
homogeneity and characteristic purpose which give to each 
of his fugues a distinct individuality, while most of his 
predecessors and contemporaries were satisfied with using 
contrapuntal treatment in a perfectly arbitrary manner, just 
as they would have worked out an episode in an organ 

The gay and jovial prelude in G major is followed by 
a very fresh and merry fugue full of positive audacity, 
particularly in the inversion of the theme. The violin 
adagio seems again to have suggested the form of the 
G minor prelude a melody composed of long-held notes 
and varied figures lies above a series of interesting harmonies; 
presently they change parts, the bass takes up the melody 
for a time and then joins the upper part. The sentiment 
is grave and deep, and it continues the same in the fugue, 
which is marked by great moderation. 

The lively prelude in A flat major owes its origin entirely 
to this motive: 

In the fugue, besides the brevity of the theme, we are 
struck by its hardly moving out of the principal key, 
while the melody is insignificant ; hence its progress is 
worked out very quietly and inconspicuously. 

The G sharp minor prelude is a really inspired com- 
position of the most subtle construction. I have already 
spoken of its fugue. 

The A major prelude is of the same type as the three- 
part sinfonias, and worthy to stand side by side with those 
glorious works of art. The theme of its fugue is a grand 
invention, which with its first note seems to knock at a 
door and then, after a pause of three quavers, to walk 
quietly in ; presently greater vigour is introduced by the 
counterpoint in semiquavers. The merits of the A minor 


fugue and its relations to its prelude have been already 

In B flat major we have a fiery prelude in demisemi- 
quavers now rocking softly and now storming up and down, 
followed by a fugue of a soothing and peculiarly sweet 
character, reminding us in many ways of the beautiful 
D major sinfonia. The unusual equality of the phrases 
contributes to give it its character. 

The B flat minor prelude is of a deeply melancholy 
cast of beauty ; Bach works it out with consummate genius 
from this germ : 

In bars 20 to 22 the resemblance is very remarkable to the 
fifth movement of Handel's Concerto grosso in F minor, of 
which Bach copied out the parts. 250 A grand fugue follows 
it, remarkable for its massive theme, mighty harmonies, and 
skilful strettos. The two last preludes and fugues once 
more vividly illustrate at the close the spirit of contrast 
which prevails throughout the twenty-four pairs of pieces 
which constitute the work. The B major prelude starts up 
before us from this motive 

in the most perfect order and freedom ; its bright, fresh 
feeling revives the soul, and it flows on for nineteen bars, 
polished and smooth down to the most insignificant detail, 
a perfect gem of chamber-music. 

The B minor prelude on the other hand the only one of 
the whole first set which is in two sections with a repeat 
is a duet in imitation above a bass in unflagging quavers, 
and is equally masterly even in the minutest details, but still 
apparently too compact and self-contained for a prelude. 
Apparently and so long as the fugue is left out of the 
question. While the fugue which belongs to the B major 

860 See ante, p. n. 


prelude goes on its way contentedly, debonnair, and without 
pause, this one 



proceeds slowly, sighing, saddened, and pain stricken ; its 
feeling is akin to that of the F minor sinfonia, only here 
the suffering is so intensified as to be almost unen- 
durable. 251 And we must beware of regarding the piercing 
bitterness of the effect in this fugue as a mere result 
of contrapuntal skill. From this point of view indeed 
it is in no way remarkable, and even if it were, Bach has 
proved again and again that he could preserve a sweet and 
pleasing character even with the greatest intricacy of con- 
struction. No, it was his purpose to produce a picture of 
human misery, to give it full utterance here, in his favourite 
key, and at the close of this glorious work in which all his 
deepest sympathies with human feeling had found expression. 
For to live is to suffer. This is the idea persistent as an 
organ point which asserts itself through all the manifold, 
motley, and endless variety in this work, gradually built up 
by the master's unresting industry, and which asserts itself 
once more in its closing chords. 

There is another reflection which again forces itself upon 
us as we close the Wohltemperirte Clavier. How little can 
a composer who finished one of his most important instru- 
mental works, conceived and produced as a grand whole, 
with such a crown of thorns, have counted on the sympathy 
of the great music-loving public ! Still, that which the god 
prompted his deep heart to utter, that he spoke without 
reservation or calculation ; he appealed only to a restricted 
circle of docile pupils and intelligent friends. But their 
sympathy, on which he could no doubt fully rely, did not 

881 Kirnberger has analysed its harmonic structure, Die wahren Grundsatze 
zum Gebrauch der Harmonic, p. 55. I avail myself of this opportunity of 
alluding to Carl van Bruyk's Technische und aesthetische Analysen des 
Wohltemperirten Clavier. Leipzig: Breitkopf und Hartel, 1867. Though I 
cannot agree with all the views expressed in it, the work contains many 
charming observations and is written with a real inspiration of love for the 


betray him into pouring out his feelings in capricious 
imagery ; he must always refine and purify them to be the 
soul of the severest possible forms. It is impossible to speak 
with too high praise of this supreme artistic morality. 

It is very difficult to say anything that will convey a general 
idea of the character of these fugues. Their forms are so 
complete within their narrow limits that what distinguishes 
them could only be made clear by a thorough technical 
analysis of each, or of most of them, and that, it is evident, is 
impossible here. And in spite of their strong individuality 
their character as a whole is even more inaccessible to verbal 
description than that of the other instrumental works, by 
reason of the lofty idealisation which the feeling they express 
derives from the severity of the form which expresses it. 
There is a legend which tells us of a city of marvels that lies 
sunk beneath the sea ; the sound of bells comes up from the 
depths, and when the surface is calm, houses and streets are 
visible through the clear water, with all the stir and turmoil 
of busy, eager human life but it is infinitely far down, and 
every attempt to clutch the vision only troubles the waters 
and distorts the picture. We feel the same thing as we 
listen to this music. All that stirred the soul of the com- 
poser love and hatred, joy and sorrow, with their fortuitous 
and transient impulses lie deep below the surface : faintly, 
remotely, we hear their echoes, and as we gaze through the 
crystal flood of sound we see the living soul within, and 
perceive that it suffered or was gay even like ourselves, only 
what it was that stirred it we may not see. But each of us 
can recognise with kindred feelings the experience of his 
own life : every one of all the human hearts which, for the 
last century and a half, has duly studied and absorbed this 
work ; and this it is which has made it, to our own day, a 
perennial source of joy and of spiritual refreshment and 
strength. Indeed, what has already been said of Bach's 
clavier works in general is especially true of this that he 
wrote them for an ideal instrument, which it was left to our 
own time to realise. A movement so pervaded with profound 
melancholy as the C sharp minor prelude and its fugue, 
through which the spirit of God seems to rush with sublime 

II. N 


terrors, could find no adequate interpretation on the clavi- 
chord. So that it is to us in fact that all the glories which 
filled the master's fancy have been first revealed ; we hear 
more clearly the sweet bells from the deep, and stand more 
nearly face to face with the forms that people it. But the 
work will long survive our generation : it will stand as long 
as the foundations of the art endure on which Bach built. 
It finds a fitting place at the end of this section, for it 
reflects at parting the whole of the Cb'then period of Bach's 
life, with its peace and contemplation, its deep and solemn 


LEIPZIG, 1723173*. 

N 2 


LEIPZIG, 1723 1734. 




THE post of Cantor to the town-school of St. Thomas at 
Leipzig was not a brilliant one ; but those who 
were familiar with its conditions knew that it had certain 
valuable advantages. Kuhnau died June 5, 1722, and a 
month later the Council had had a choice among six 
candidates. For the most part these were men who from 
their own knowledge were aware of what the Cantor of 
the Thomasschule 1 had to expect. Fasch, Rolle, and 
Telemann were conspicuous among them. Johann 
Friedrich Fasch, Capellmeister to the Prince of Anhalt- 
Zerbst, had been at the Thomasschule from 1701 to 1707, 
and had enjoyed Kuhnau's instruction. As a student of 
law he got up a musical society among the Leipzig students, 
and with them provided a part of the church music in the 
University church of St. Paul, in 1710. After this he led a 
life of vicissitude, and he had only been a few weeks in his 
place at Zerbst when one of his Leipzig patrons, the 
Hofrath Lange, suggested to him that he should become 
a candidate for the vacant place of Cantor. 2 

Christian Friedrich Rolle we have already met with in 
the course of Bach's history ; it was with him and Kuhnau 
that he had tested the organ of the Church of the Blessed 
Virgin at Halle in 1716 ; at that time Rolle had already 

1 So called in German ; the designation is retained here for convenience 
and brevity. 

3 Records of the University of Leipzig; and Gerber, n. d., II., col. g. 


been for a year at Quedlinburg; he was now musical director 
in Magdeburg. 8 Telemann, finally, who had gone from 
Eisenach to Frankfort am Main, and from thence, in 1721, 
to Hamburg as musical director and Cantor, had formerly 
first shown his great musical powers at Leipzig; he had 
gone thither in 1701, intending to study jurisprudence and 
to suppress all his musical proclivities. But his talent was 
discovered, and he was immediately engaged to produce a 
composition once a fortnight for the Church of St. Thomas, 
where Kuhnau had lately been made Cantor. He also 
formed a Collegium Musicum, a Musical Union of students, 
which rapidly rose to importance, and during the first ten 
years of the eighteenth century was a power in the musical 
life of Leipzig. He soon found occupation as a dramatic 
composer, and wrote a number of operas for the Leipzig 
Theatre, for some of which he also wrote the text, and 
even appeared in them himself. When at last he obtained 
the place of Organist to the New Church (August 8, 1704) 
the Council hastened to instal him (August 18). " He 
was a very good composer he was to give his services at 
the Thomasschule on occasion he was not only to play 
on the organ, but to direct all the music but he must 
refrain from theatres and give up acting." 4 In the same 
year he was invited to Sorau, as Capellmeister, and thence- 
forth Germany rang with his fame. Hence, when the point 
under discussion was the selection of a new Cantor for the 
Thomasschule, he was preferred above all the other can- 
didates, and some days after, when he had passed the 
customary tests, his appointment was definitely settled by 
the Council. The only difficulty raised was the obligation 
under which the Cantor lay to teach some other branch of 
knowledge in the school ; to this Telemann would not con- 
sent. The Council, however, declared their willingness to 
make other arrangements in this respect, and prepared to 

See Vol. I., p. 520. In the documents preserved in the archives at 
Magdeburg he is called Johann Christian Rolle, but there is no doubt as to 
their identity. 

4 Acts of the Leipzig Council. Telemann's Autobiography in Mattheson's 
Grosse Generalbassschule, p. 173. Ehrenpf., p. 238. 


instal the famous musician in his office, when he returned to 
Hamburg and wrote from thence that he could not accept it. 

The Council, much provoked, proceeded to a new election. 
Meanwhile, Georg Friedrich Kauffmann, of Merseburg, 5 and 
after him Christoph Graupner, Capellmeister of Darmstadt, 
had come forward as candidates, and the town was repre- 
sented by Georg Balthasar Schott, the highly-esteemed 
Organist of the New Church. The decision fell on 
Graupner, for whom Kauffmann voluntarily made way. 
Even Graupner might regard himself as an old Leipziger, 
so far as that he owed most of his musical and general 
culture to a nine years' discipline at the Thomasschule. 
From being a prize scholar under Kuhnau, in clavier play- 
ing and composition, he had become a master who, as a 
composer for the clavier, may rank as one of the best of his 
time. 6 In his application for the post of Cantor he had 
been strongly recommended by his old friend Heinichen, the 
Capellmeister at Dresden. Graupner came to Leipzig, and 
seems to have passed his tests and presented his testimonials; 
but, when all had proceeded so far, the Landgrave of Hesse 
Darmstadt refused to part with him. As the transaction 
had been conducted privately, Graupner was able to retire 
more honourably than Telemann. 

Besides Graupner, and as it would seem rather later at 
any rate, not till the end of the year 1722 Bach came 
forward 7 to offer himself. It is not probable that he should 
only now have heard for the first time of the vacant post ; 
his late appearance must have had other causes. He was, 
in fact, in a critical position. Prince Leopold's failing 
interest in music, his own anxiety for the higher education 
of his sons, the feeling that in the service of the Court only 
one side of his artistic genius could thrive and labour all this 
made a further residence in Cothen seem undesirable. On 
the other hand, he no doubt did not undervalue the comfort- 

's See Vol. I., p. 118. 

6 Mattheson, Ehrenpf., p. 410. 

7 Documents of the Leipzig Council. The appointment, dated Dec. 21, says 
that several had become candidates namely, Capellmeister Graupner, of Darm- 
ktadt, and Bach, of Cothen. 


able and honourable position, free from all petty anxiety, 
which the Prince's favour secured to him. In Leipzig a 
wider circle of labour awaited him ; he would be standing 
midway in a broader and fuller stream of public life, but 
" from a Capellmeister to become a Cantor " was not at all 
to the mind of a man who was both proud and famous. 
Even after he had actually put out his hand to gather the 
inheritance of Kuhnau, for fully three months he doubted 
whether he should not do better to withdraw. But certain 
persons whose counsel he asked urged it so strongly that 
at last he took the decisive step. He went to Leipzig at 
the beginning of February, 1723 ; on the 7th, being the 
Sunday called Estomihi (Sunday next before Lent), he 
performed as his test piece the cantata on " Jesus nahm 
zu sich die Zwolfe " " Jesus called the Twelve unto Him." 8 

His appointment did not immediately follow ; the Council 
were still in treaty with Graupner, who, three weeks pre- 
viously, had passed his tests, and besides him Kauffmann and 
Schott were still candidates. However, when Graupner had 
retired, no long consideration was needed to discern the 
worthiest of the three remaining competitors. Bach had 
been acquainted with Kuhnau ; he knew Leipzig and Leipzig 
knew him. He had already been invited thither in 1717 to 
inspect the great organ in St. Paul's Church, and the Council 
knew that it was strengthening itself by such a selection. 
They reflected that he was a distinguished clavier-player, a 
man for whose sake even Telemann might be forgotten, the 
equal of Graupner, and one who was famous enough to attract 
even the students to take part in his musical performances, 
which in the then state of affairs was highly desirable. 
Besides this, Bach seemed to be willing to fulfil the Cantor's 
duties in every branch, and in this he was distinguished 
from the other candidates ; he was willing even to undertake 
the general instruction required of him. This consisted in 
giving five Latin lessons weekly to the third and fourth 
classes ; in these the course included written exercises, 

8 So says a note on a copy of this cantata, which, though not an autograph, 
was revised and completed bv Bach. It is in the Royal Library at Berlin. See 
also ante, p. 157. 


grammar, the Colloquia, Corderii, 9 and an explanation of 
Luther's Latin Catechism. 10 At first Bach would seem to 
have resisted the demand that he should be Latin teacher as 
well, 11 or else, from the refusal of all the other candidates it 
was taken for granted in his case. However, when the 
Council met for final decision on the 22nd of April, Burgo- 
master Lange was in a position to state that Bach had 
expressly pledged himself both to hold his official classes and 
to give private lessons in the Latin tongue. He cannot 
have been ignorant that in Telemann's case a dispensation 
from these duties had been contemplated, and this relief 
would undoubtedly have been at once granted to him also, 
since the gentlemen of the Council declared of their own 
accord that if he could not accomplish all the instruction 
required in Latin no objection would be raised to paying 
a deputy to do it for him. Bach, however, felt equal to 
performing his own duties, and no doubt regarded it also 
as a point of honour to be in no respect behind his pre- 
decessors ; after such a man as Kuhnau this was saying 
something, but we have already had occasion to observe 
that Bach from his schooldays had been a sound Latin 
scholar. Still it must no doubt have seemed to him a 
strange experience to stand in front of the third class of 
boys with the Latin Grammar in his hand, a church cantata, 
perhaps who knows ? running in his head. Beyond in- 
structing his own children, perhaps, such teaching had never 
been any part of his duties. Indeed, he soon felt the task a 
burthen, and paid his colleague, Magister Pezold, the sum of 
fifty thalers per annum to relieve him of the greater part of 
his teaching ; after this he held the class only when Pezold 
was ill or otherwise prevented, and then he would dictate an 
exercise to the boys for them to elaborate (construe and parse). 12 

9 Maturini Corderii Colloquia Scholastica, pietati, literarum doctrinis, decora 
puerili, omni muneri, ac sermoni prcecipue scholastico, utiliter concinnata. 
3rd ed. Leipzig, 1595. 

10 Acts of the Leipzig Council concerning the " Schuel zu S. Thomas." 

11 "All three" namely Bach, Kauffmann and Schott "will not be able to 
teach (Latin) as well.' 1 Document dated April 9. 

12 This condition of affairs was reported to the Consistory by Superintendent 
Deyling, Feb. 24, 1724. 


About a fortnight after the transaction above mentioned, 
Bach, who had appeared in person before the Council, 
received an official intimation that he was considered the best 
of the candidates, and had been unanimously elected ; the 
office was therefore conferred upon him on the same con- 
ditions as those on which his predecessors had held it. He 
then had to sign a contract deed which had been prepared 
for Telemann the year before (and which, twenty-seven years 
after was used again for his successor) ; this contained the 
customary stipulations, as to leading a respectable and 
sober life, to fidelity and diligence in the performance of his 
official duties, and to due and proper respect and obedience 
to the worshipful Council ; it pledged him, among other con- 
ditions, not to make the church music too long nor too 
operatic, to instruct the boys not only in singing but for 
the avoidance of expense in instrumental music also, to 
treat them with humanity ; not to send any incapable singers 
to join the chorus of the New Church, which was exempt from 
his supervision, not to make any journeys without permission 
from the Burgomaster, nor to accept any office in the Univer- 
sity without the consent of the Council. 13 And even after 
all this the appointment was not an accomplished fact. 
Its confirmation was needed by the Consistory of Leipzig, a 
superior municipal body, composed partly of ecclesiastics 
and partly of laymen. 14 When the Council desired to 
appoint to any post in the town churches or schools, the 
candidate had to present himself before the Consistory, 
which then put him through a sort of examination on its 
own account, with the object of ascertaining the religious 
principles of the examinee. If the result was satisfactory 
his appointment was forthwith confirmed by the Consistory. 
Bach was presented, on May 8, by Deyling, Superintendent 
and Consistorial Assessor, and his examiner was the Con- 
sistorial Assessor Dr. Schmid. The two assessors then 

" See App. B, II. (Vol. III., p. 301). 

11 Sicul gives a list of the names of the members of the Consistory for 1724, 
with the dates of their election ; Leipziger Jahrbuch, Vol. iii, p. 358. It had 
at that time six Assessors the Doctors Wagner, Lange, Schmid, Packbusch, 
Peyling, and Mascov. The director, since 1709, was Dr. Johann Franz Born. 


testified that Herr Johann Sebastian Bach had answered the 
questions put to him in such wise that he might be permitted 
to assume the post of Cantor in the Thomasschule. 15 On the 
i3th he was confirmed in his appointment by the Consistory ; 
he had to subscribe the concordia formula, 16 and be sworn. 

On Monday, May 31, his formal installation at last took 
place. 17 At nine in the morning two deputies from the 
Council namely, one Lehmann, who was at that time 
superintendent of the school, and who held the civic office 
of " Baumeister," 18 and Menser, the chief town clerk 
proceeded to the Thomasschule, where they were received 
at the door by the Rector (or warden) Joh. Heinrich Ernesti, 
and conducted to the hall appointed for the examination of 
the deed. Here they were met by the licentiate Weisse, 
preacher at the Church of St. Thomas, who appeared as 
the representative of Superintendent Deyling, and as the 
ambassador from the Consistory. The six other masters of 
the school now joined them, with their new colleague 
namely, Licentiate Christian Ludovici, the sub-warden 
(Conrector), Magister Carl Friedrich Pezold, Master of the 
third class ; Christoph Schmied, of the fourth ; Johann 
Dohnert, of the fifth ; Johann Breunigke, of the sixth ; and 
Christian Ditmann, of the seventh. 19 

They took their seats, the pastor and the two reporters of 
the Council in one row, and opposite to them the school 

15 " Du. Jo. Sebastianus Bach ad quaestiones a me propositas ita respondit, 
uteundem ad officium Cantoratus in Schola Thomana admitti posse censeam. 

" Consentit. D. SALOMON DEYLING." 
Act of the Leipzig Consistory. 

16 The "concordia formula" is an abridgement of the contents of the 
Concordienbuch, a kind of religious statute book, in which are embodied the 
tenets and doctrines of the Reformed Church. 

17 The official documents date it on June i. Deyling, in a letter written a 
month later, says May 31 ; and this is certainly right, since it fell in 1723 on a 
Monday, and Bach would begin his school work after conducting the services 
of the previous day. 

18 This answered rather to the Roman Aedile, and does not mean an 
architect; Baumeister Lehmann was a lawyer. See Sicul, Leipziger Jahr- 
buch, Vol. IV., p. 764. 

19 From E.E. Hochw. Raths | der Stadt Leipzig | Ordnung | Der Schule | Zu 
S- THOMAE | Gedruckt bey Immanuel Tietzen, 1723, p. n. 


officials according to their rank. The choir first sang a 
piece of music at the door, and then all the scholars came 
in. The town clerk made a speech bearing on the installa- 
tion, and the pastor then pronounced the fact of installation, 
adding the customary admonitions and injunctions. Bach 
replied in a few words, he was congratulated on his new 
appointment, and the ceremony concluded with another 
musical performance. 

It was plainly shown on this occasion that in the Con- 
sistory the Council had a thorn in the flesh, for the superior 
court fettered its liberty and independence in various ways. 
Up to this time it had never been the custom for the 
Consistory to interfere in this direct manner with the 
installation of a school official. The deputies of the Council 
declared then and there that it was an infringement of their 
rights, that the superintendent and pastor when present at 
such a ceremony had no more share in it than to con- 
gratulate the new officer. It was owing only to the 
moderation of Weisse's conduct that matters did not come 
to an outbreak between him and the irate councilmen in 
the presence of the whole assembly. The Council im- 
mediately proceeded to draw up a formal protest, however, 
and the Consistory appealed against it to the regulations 
of the canon law of the electorate of Saxony. 20 

Bach had an official residence in the left wing of the 
school buildings ; this had probably been the Cantor's 
dwelling from time immemorial, for Kuhnau, at any 
rate, had inhabited it before him. 21 The building at that 
time had only two storeys, and was much too small for 
its purpose. At the beginning of 1731 it was added to, 
and an additional storey was built, and meanwhile Bach 
had a temporary residence assigned to him, from the 
spring of 1731 till the New Year of 1732, probably, 
in the house of Dr. Cristoph Dondorff, who from 1730 

20 See Appendix B, III., of the German for the entire document. 

81 Das jetzt lebende und florirende Leipzig ; Leipzig, bey Joh. Theodori 
Boetii seel. Kindern, 1723. "Joh. Sebastian Each, Director Music, und 
Cantor, am Thomas Kirchofe auf der Thomas-Schule." We know that Kuhnau 
lived here, from a note as to his interment in the Leipzig Register. 


had owned the Mill of St. Thomas, 22 and who was a friend 
of the Bach family. 23 St. Thomas' Mill stood outside the 
city walls, which ran round the back of the schoolhouse, 
where the Schlobach estate now lies, on the farther side 
of the Promenade. It may be mentioned, as characteristic 
of the conditions of life at that time, that the rent paid 
by the Council for this house, which Bach occupied for 
nearly a year, was sixty thalers. His residence, as Cantor, 
was meanwhile somewhat altered ; a room on the first floor 
was lost in consequence of the rebuilding, and Bach had 
another instead on the third floor. It would seem that the 
dwelling was made on the whole more commodious. Bach 
never quitted it again till his death ; and after him it was, 
with very little alteration, the residence of all the Cantors 
of the school down to the time of Moritz Hauptmann. The 
view of the open place near the church, to which the school 
buildings turn their front, and the houses which enclose two 
sides of it, must be much the same now as they were then; 
only the great stone fountain, which at that time graced the 
middle of the quadrangle, has now disappeared. 24 



LEIPZIG, at the time of which we are speaking, had three 
public schools : those of St. Thomas and St. Nicholas, 
and the Orphanage. The first of these was by far the 
oldest, dating from the thirteenth century as a foundation 
school under the Augustine monks (or Austin Friars). It 
had not become a town school until four years after the 
introduction of the reformed doctrines into Leipzig, when, 

24 According to the Ward-book of the town, preserved there in the Lower 
Court of Justice. 

23 He was godfather to a son of Bach's, born in 1732. 

84 A view of this quadrangle, engraved on copper, is prefixed to the school 
regulations printed in 1723. But the Thomasschule, in the autumn of 1877, 
quitted this venerable and memorable horn for a new building outside the 


in the year 1543 the Council took possession of the Monastery 
of St. Thomas and all its dependencies. The Monastery 
had had an Alumneum, or foundation school, in which a 
number of boys were maintained for the proper performance 
of the choral portions of the Liturgy and other parts of 
Divine worship. As a Protestant establishment the school 
was soon considerably extended. At first it had four classes 
and the same number of masters. When the St. Nicholas 
school (founded in 1511) could no longer contain the pupils 
that resorted to it, the Council decided that, at any rate till 
further orders, little boys should be admitted to the Thomas- 
schule. Their instruction was at first carried on by monitors 
called Locates, but under-masters were afterwards substi- 
tuted for these. The school now consisted of seven classes, 
of which the three lowest, particularly, were for a long time 
very much crowded. The foundation school was kept up, 
and the number of scholarships had been gradually increased 
by a succession of endowments. For a time there were 
thirty-two, these increased to fifty-four, and at last, by the 
munificence of Privy Councillor Born, to fifty-five. 25 

The principal aim and end of the multiplication of the 
scholarships was the cultivation of church music. Formerly 
most of the Leipzig churches, and among them those of 
St. Thomas and St. Nicholas, had been under the management 
of the Augustine choir brethren ; the Reformation clung to 
a close alliance between Church and school, and the founda- 
tion scholars of the Thomasschule were the means most 
obviously at hand for the musical requirements of the 
Protestant service. It is well known how urgently Luther 
has insisted on the use of music, and how he relied upon it 
greatly for securing the extension of the reformed doctrines. 

Thus the Cantor of such an institution was a personage 
of much importance, doubly so since he also was required 
to take a share in the general course of instruction. This, 
in fact, was sufficiently recognised by the position he took 

** Various documents referring to the school are preserved among the Archives 
of Leipzig. Stallbaum, Die Thomasschule zu Leipzig. Leipzig, 1839. See, 
too, his work, Ueber den innern Zusammenhang musikalischer Bildung, &c. 
Leipzig: Fritzsche, 1842. 


among his colleagues. He ranked third in order, 26 and, 
while the other teachers had to give four hours of lessons 
daily, he, like the Rector, had only to give three. This 
moderate requirement which, as time went on, was even 
farther reduced, was the reason why at last eight masters 
were needed for seven classes. The hours of work were from 
seven to ten in the morning, and from twelve to three in the 
afternoon. Before the issue of the school regulations of 1634, 
the Cantor had daily to give a lesson in Latin grammar 
from seven to eight Luther's Latin Catechism was used only 
on Saturday in music from twelve to one ; and from one to 
two Latin syntax with the third class. In accordance with 
those regulations, the hours of singing lessons were some- 
what increased ; those of the Latin lessons were con- 
siderably diminished, quite irrespective of the usual division 
into three lessons daily. Instruction in singing was now given 
on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, at nine and at twelve ; 
on Friday at twelve only. It comprised all the classes at once ; 
that is to say, the four upper and original classes, to which 
alone the foundation boys belonged. On Thursday, at seven 
in the morning, the Cantor had to take the boys to church, 
and then was free for the rest of the day ; on Saturday, at 
the same hour, he had to expound the Latin catechism to 
the third and fourth classes ; on other days he had to give 
one Latin lesson to the third class. This plan of lessons 
was still kept up with remarkable regularity till the time of 
Bach's arrival, and for a time was carried on by him 
with undiminished regularity, excepting that he went to 
early church with the boys on Friday morning, and so had 
Thursday entirely free. The Cantor gave instructions in 
singing only to the four upper classes, his few lessons in 

26 In the Act of election one of the members of the Council designates 
the Cantor as Collega Quartus. This is an inaccurate statement, and can 
only have referred to the instruction in Latin (or what not) in which the Cantor 
did in fact rank below the third master ; but in order of rank he came next 
to the Conrector, and he next to the Rector. (See Ordnung der Schule zu 
S. Thomas, 1723.) But when this mentions, besides the Rector, eight other 
masters, this certainly does not refer to Kuhnau's time. From the Acts of 17 17 
we learn that there were only seven masters besides the Rector, just as in 
Bach's time; there was no Quartus above the two Bachelors. 


Latin to the third alone, the Tertius, as he was called, 
being their master in other things. He, with the Rector, 
the Conrector, and the Cantor, formed the circle of the 
four upper masters (superiores) , who held themselves aloof 
from the others, the Baccalaureus funerum, Baccalaureus 
nosocomii and the first and second collaborators (under 
masters), or, as they were called after 1723, the Quartus, 
Quintus, Sextus, and Septimus. The four upper masters, 
including the Cantor, were also required to inspect the 
foundation boys, and took this duty in weekly rotation. 
They had them to live entirely with them, and to comply 
with the regulations of the schoolhouse, which required 
them to rise at five in the morning (at six in winter) ; to 
dine at ten ; sup at five in the afternoon ; and go to bed 
at eight. 27 

These were the Cantor's duties in the school itself. With 
regard to the public, further duties arose from the position 
he took as director of certain church choirs which were 
formed of the foundation scholars. The two most im- 
portant churches of the town were those of St. Thomas 
and St. Nicholas. But in 1699 the church of the 
Franciscan friars had been repaired and restored to use, 
under the name of the New Church, and after Telemann's 
appointment in 1704 had had music of its own. After 
this, in 1711, the services, which for a while had entirely 
ceased in St. Peter's church, had also been revived, so 
that from that time the scholars of the Thomasschule had 
had to supply the music every Sunday in four churches, and 
on high festivals in the church of the Hospital of St. John." 8 
Thus they were divided into four choirs. The beginners 
and weaker singers were assigned to St. Peter's, where only 
chorales were sung; this choir probably also served the church 
of St. John, as its festival and that of St. Peter would not 

47 Acts of the Council relating to the School of St. Thomas. Under 
Gesner's wardenship these arrangements were somewhat modified. See 
Gesetze der Schule zu S. Thomae, 1733. 

28 For this they received a special gratuity, at first consisting of food and 
cakes, but afterwards of 13 thlrs. 3 gr., a year. Accounts of the Hospital are 
preserved in the Town Hall at Leipzig. 


interfere with each other. 29 The rest of the singers were 
pretty equally distributed; still the service in the New 
Church was comparatively the easiest, since there the 
scholars had only to sing motetts and chorales under the 
direction of the choir Prefect ; while on holy days, and 
during the great Fair times other church music of a concerted 
character was performed, and not by the boys. 80 Since 
Telemann's time the director of this had always been the 
organist then in office, and the function of the Cantor of the 
school extended no further than the selection of the hymns, 
and perhaps of the motetts which were to be sung. 81 

He had nothing to do with the churches of St. Peter and 
St. John, but the music in St. Thomas' and St. Nicholas' 
was under his direction. On ordinary Sundays a cantata 
and a motett were performed in only one of the churches, 
each in turn ; the first choir sang the cantata under 
the leading of the Cantor. But on the first two days of 
each of the great festivals, and at the New Year, Epiphany, 
Ascension Day, and Trinity Sunday, and on the festival of 
the Annunciation, concerted music was performed twice a 
day, and in both churches at once, the plan being that 
the first choir sang at St. Thomas' in the afternoon the same 
cantata that it had performed in the morning at St. Nicholas', 
and on the next holy day following sang at St. Thomas' in 
the morning and St. Nicholas' in the afternoon : the second 
choir taking the reverse order. This second choir sang 
under the conduct of its Prefect. 82 The rehearsals of the 
Sunday music took place in the church regularly on 
Saturday after two o'clock vespers, and lasted till four 

The direction and performance of music for wedding 
festivals and funeral processions were also regarded as part 
of the Cantor's official church duties, as being in direct 

29 Bach observes in a tabulated list of the four choirs which he drew up : 
" And this last choir must also serve the Petri Kirche." Documents of the 
" Schuel zu St. Thomas," Vol. IV. 

80 See Appendix B, VII. Sicul, Neo-Annalium Lipsinesium Continuatio, II. 
2nd Ed., 1719, p. 508. 

See Appendix B, VII. Sicul, ibid., 568. 

II. O 


connection with the divine services. If the funeral procession 
was of a grand and solemn character, the whole school or 
at least the larger half of it, i.e., the three first classes and 
the fifth accompanied the body, and were accustomed first 
to sing a motett at the door where the deceased lay. While 
the bier was being carried to the churchyard, the boys 
marching in front of it sang a simple chorale, and only 
performed part-music on specially grand occasions. The 
Cantor had at all times to accompany the funeral train, and 
to decide on what should be sung, and as a rule he led the 
motett himself. The fact that the Cantor not unfrequently 
escaped this task, and left his musical duties to the choir 
Prefect, gives us a clear insight into various official 
utterances ; for instance, Bach was specially enjoined in the 
deed he signed at all times to accompany his scholars in 
funeral processions as often as possible. As regarded 
wedding services, the use of music on such occasions was 
also very various, depending on the position and wishes of 
the persons chiefly concerned. In all cases the arrange- 
ment of the music lay with the Cantor, even when he 
himself took no part in it and it consisted merely of chorale 
singing. He had a representative in the Prefect of each 
choir, who could relieve him in many ways, not merely of 
the labour of leading, but also of the rehearsals. This custom 
prevailed so early as in the seventeenth century. After the 
school regulations of 1634 had instituted two hours of singing 
lesson for each of the first three days of the week, the 
Rector, Conrector, and Tertius petitioned the Council that 
the Cantor should be relieved of the singing lesson at twelve 
o'clock, and give a Latin lesson instead, since this singing 
lesson was very inconvenient to him by reason of his dinner 
hour, and he therefore but seldom presided at it ; nor indeed 
was it needful that he should, as the boys could and did sing 
without him. The old order of instruction was, however, 
adhered to, and, as we have seen, it still continued in Bach's 
time. But so, to be sure, did the lax practice of the Cantor, 
which, in fact, gave rise to a complaint on the part of the 
Rector, Joh. Aug. Ernesti, that Bach held but one hour's 
singing class, whereas he ought to have held two, and that 


consequently the boys had not enough practice in music. 
But it was in the nature of things that an opportunity for 
the development of a certain independence should be afforded 
to the Prefects, for, irrespective of the fact that a school 
choir was not unfrequently required at weddings and 
festivities by personages connected with the school to sing 
during the banquet, the scholars also had to perform their 
perambulations at fixed seasons of the year with processional 
singing, and in both cases they had to rely upon themselves 
for the conduct of the singing. 

The processions took place at Michaelmas and the New 
Year, and on St. Martin's and St. Gregory's Days (the 
nth of November and I2th of March, N.S.). 83 On these oc- 
casions likewise the boys who could sing were divided into 
four choirs, each with a Prefect of its own, and apparently 
each of these had one of the four quarters of the city assigned 
to it as the scene of its performances. For instance, in 1718 
the four choirs were thus distributed ; the first included three 
basses, three tenors, two altos, and three trebles ; the second, 
two voices for each part ; the third, two basses, two tenors, 
two altos, and three trebles ; the fourth, two basses, three 
tenors, two altos, and three trebles, and each choir had 
besides one or two torch-bearers. The Cantor's duty was 
restricted to selecting and composing the choirs, to determin- 
ing generally what should be sung during the perambulations, 
and to superintending from time to time the rehearsals held 
for the purpose ; all else was the Prefects' affair. The 
Prefects of the first two choirs especially held an important 
position. 84 They had to lead the motetts on Sundays and 

88 According to the report of the school visitation held in the year 1717. 
In the school regulations for 1723 a payment is mentioned for music performed 
in the summer (" Music-Gelde so im Sommer colligiret wird.") When and 
how these summer processions took place I am not able to say. 

84 It must be supposed that the four church choirs were somewhat 
differently constituted from those which were selected for the processional 
singing. These, indeed, cannot at all times have been equally strong. At the 
New Year only thirty-two foundation scholars sang, eight in each choir, an 
arrangement which had evidently survived from the time when there had been 
only thirty-two scholarships. This also explains the case when in the acts and 
school regulations here and there mention is made of the eight concentores. 

O 2 


festivals, and start the hymns in church ; the Prefect of the 
second had to conduct the cantata on those festivals when 
the Cantor was not in the church, while the Prefect of the 
first could distinguish himself in his duties of leading the 
vocal music at wedding feasts and similar occasions, in 
taking his choir on its Michaelmas perambulation, and in 
representing the Cantor as conductor of the cantata, when 
he was prevented attending. 85 

If to all this we add that the Cantor was director of the 
music in the two other town churches, and required to 
inspect their organs and to superintend the town musicians 
both singers and players who had to bear a part in the 
church music, all his official duties have been enumerated. 
It cannot be said that they were oppressively heavy. Besides 
five lessons in Latin from which, as we have seen, Bach 
soon released himself he had to give seven singing lessons 
weekly ; but of these he commonly left the afternoon practice 
to the Prefects. There was no lack of holidays at the 
Thomasschule. At each of the Fair times i.e., at Easter, 
Michaelmas, and the New Year there was a week of whole 
holidays, and a second week when the afternoons were free. 
In the dog-days there were four weeks of half-holidays. 
Morning lessons were pretermitted on Saints' days, on the 
occasion of funeral orations in the university church, and on 
the quarterly academical speech days. A whole holiday was 
given in honour of the f6te or name days of the four upper 
masters. Eight days were to be given up to the rehearsals 
for the processional singing at the New Year, St. Martin's, 
and St. Gregory's, but so arranged that morning lessons 
should be attended on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and 
Saturday, and that " no one should sleep through them " 
so runs the school regulation. So in point of fact not less 
than four weeks were given up to preparing for the New 

38 All these details are derived from original documents, of which a con- 
siderable number are preserved in the Archives of the ancient town of Leipzig. 
It has not been thought necessary to trouble the English reader with the press- 
marks and references in detail. The duty of starting the hymn properly 
belonged to the Cantor, but common custom had deputed it to the Prefects and 
the practice continued, like many others, in spite of the rules laid down by the 
school regulations of 1723. 


Year's singing. In 1733 the Rector made an attempt to 
restrict the preparation for St. Gregory's Day to six or eight 
afternoons, for St. Martin's Day to four, and for the New 
Year to twelve or at most fourteen. While these rehearsals 
were going on all the Cantor's afternoon lessons were 
omitted. Even his church duties did not continue the whole 
year through. All through Lent no concerted church-music 
was performed excepting on the festival of the Annunciation, 
and the same was the case on the three last Sundays in 
Advent. 86 Excepting on these occasions the Cantor had 
to conduct one cantata every Sunday. It was only on high 
festivals that he was very much occupied, particularly at the 
time of the three holy seasons, when he had to provide two 
sacred pieces for two holy days in each, and to give two 
performances of each on both days, but the second Prefect 
relieved him of one. 

As has been already shown, the Cantor had a residence 
given him free of rent ; the rest of his income amounted to 
about 700 thlrs., 37 though, from its nature, it could not 
be exactly estimated. The fixed salary as paid by the 
Town Council was only 100 gulden ( = 87 thalrs. 12 ggr.), 
and 13 thlrs. 3 ggr. in money for wood and lights. Besides, 
the Cantor received at any rate, in Bach's time i thlr. 
16 ggr. on the Berger foundation and a similar sum on that 
of Frau Berger and that of Adlershelm, with 5 ggr. yearly 
from the Meyer foundation ; he also had a variable sum 
(3 thlrs. and 18 ggr., 2 thlrs. i ggr., 10 ggr. 6 pf., and so on) 
forming a share in certain bequests to the school ; and, finally, 
in kind, 16 bushels of corn, 2 cords of firelogs, and from the 
Church revenues two measures of wine at Easter, Whitsun- 
tide and Christmas. Everything beyond this came from 
incidental fees. These, of course, were derived chiefly from 
the school money. Twice a week eight of the scholars went 

86 Leipziger Kirchen Staat, Das ist Deutlicher Unterricht vom Gottes 
Dienst in Leipzig, wie es bey solchem so wohl an hohen und andern Festen, 
als auch an denen Sonntagcn ingleichen die gantze Woche iiber gehalten 
wird," &c. Leipzig, 1710, p. 32. (This work is to be found at Halle in the 
Ponickau Library.) 

87 As we learn from Bach's statement in his letter to Erdmann. 


round the town with boxes to collect small donations from a 
certain number of benefactors to the school the " runners' 
money," as it was called. Out of this 6 pfennigs were 
deducted weekly as school payment for each scholar, and 
this was divided among the four upper masters. 38 The 
very small sum is accounted for by the principle observed in 
the Thomasschule of bringing up by preference the children 
of parents without means. Out of the money collected at 
the Michaelmas and the New Year perambulations, after 
one thaler was deducted for the Rector, the Cantor received 
one-eleventh, one-eleventh more was taken for the Conrector, 
and sixteen thirty-thirds for the singers ; the Cantor then 
took one quarter of the residue. The money collected in 
the summer was divided in like manner. Out of what was 
obtained on St. Gregory's Day the Rector first had one-tenth 
to give an entertainment to the four upper masters, and out 
of the residue the Cantor took one-third. Funeral money 
was another source of income ; if the whole school accom- 
panied the procession, and if a motett was sung outside the 
house of mourning, the Cantor received i thaler 15 ggr. ; 
without a motett he had 15 ggr. ; for the larger half of the 
school he took i thlr., for the smaller half 4 ggr., for a quarter 
of the school 6 pf. The Cantor received 2 thlrs. for a 
wedding service. An income which consisted mainly of 
fees had of course its unsatisfactory side. It could never be 
calculated on with certainty beforehand, and was dependent 
on all sorts of accidents nay, literally on wind and weather; 
for, as Bach writes to Erdmann, "when the air of Leipzig is 
wholesome there are fewer funerals," and consequently a 
perceptible diminution in the Cantor's receipts. On this 
theory the comfort of the Cantor would naturally increase 
with the mortality of his neighbours. Many, indeed, strove 
to deprive the Cantor of his dues by evading the prescriptions 

88 This was the custom under the wardenship of Rector Joh. Heinrich Ernesti 
even after the school regulations of 1723 had decided that school money should 
only be deducted for the foundation scholars at the rate of 12 pfennigs each 
weekly. The state of affairs generally above described as existing at the time 
of Bach's election is not in accordance with the rules laid down by the Council, 
They by no means corresponded on every point. 


of the law and breaking through ancient usages. Kuhnau 
had had to complain to the Council that many distinguished 
couples chose to be united without any music and singing, 
or even away in the country ; that in those Sunday and 
weekday hours when formerly only solemn and profitable 
weddings had ever been permitted, now everybody was 
allowed to be married ; that many deceased persons even 
were quietly buried with only the smaller half of the school, 
and without music because they were ashamed of making 
this public, so that new compositions were hardly ever 
ordered for such occasions, even of him. However, it is 
very evident in spite of many differences of opinion, both now 
and formerly that there was a strong sense of the undig- 
nified attitude of an institution which allowed an important 
school and church official to derive his means of subsistence in 
groschen and pfennigs, which moreover were partly obtained 
by the agency of begging scholars. Rector Gesner was of 
opinion that " in the increasing conceit of youth it was much 
to be desired, since it would cut off the roots of many evil 
temptations, that the payment of the teachers should no 
longer be subtracted from the runners' money." Joh. Hein. 
Ernesti took the distribution of the funeral money into his own 
hands merely to avoid the complaints, vexation, and dissatis- 
faction which at all times had arisen on account of this 
money ; but in doing so he found much to put up with, and 
was presently traduced before the Council and the whole 
town as a most iniquitous man. But, in spite of everything, 
so much as this remains certain the income of the Cantor 
allowed a man such as Bach, even with his numerous family, 
to live comfortably in the fashion of a simple artisan. We 
have evidence of this in his well-managed finances and the 
well furnished and fitted house he left behind him at his 

With regard to its official conditions and labours, the post 
of Cantor to the Thomasschule may also be considered to 
have been a satisfactory one. Merely glancing at the surface 
of things, some dark shadows are certainly to be seen in the 
bright picture. From the beginning of the eighteenth 
century the school had been falling into frightful decay, 


Part of the blame was due to the organisation. In com- 
pliance with the conditions of the foundations round which 
it had grown up, it was to be on one hand a nursery and 
academy for church music, and on the other a scholapauperum. 
A thorough and uniform intellectual training, with strict 
and incessant supervision of the scholars, had become almost 
impossible in the course of the many and various employ- 
ments which arose from their musical vocation. And yet, 
among children of the humbler classes, particularly those of 
that generation, these were doubly needful ; but for a long 
time men really fit for their position had been wanting 
among the masters. When Bach became Cantor he found 
in the Rector of the school an old man who had held his office 
for nearly forty years. Johann Heinrich Ernesti, born in 
1652, was the son of a village minister of Saxony, and had 
studied theology and philosophy in Leipzig ; in 1680 he was 
appointed Sunday preacher at the church of St. Nicholas 
and Conrector at the Thomasschule ; in 1684 he became 
Rector there, and in 1691 Professor Poeseos in the University 
of Leipzig. 89 Though a learned man enough, he does not 
seem to have been fitted to be at the head of a public school 
of this kind ; he could keep neither masters nor scholars well 
in hand. The college of masters lived in disunion and 
jealousy, and but meagrely discharged their duties ; the 
scholars fell into undisciplined and slovenly habits. All the 
year round the school was a centre of disease, which took 
the deeper root because the accommodation was to the last 
degree limited but for this, to be sure, the Rector was not 
to blame. 

Before the extension of the school buildings in 1731, the 
second and third classes on one side, and the fifth, sixth, 
and seventh classes on the other, were all held at once, 
and in the same hall, by their respective masters. The 
result was that the number of scholars was rapidly diminish- 
ing. No doubt there were always plenty of applicants for 
scholarships, since these provided a maintenance almost 

89 Sicul, Leipziger Jahrbuch, Vol. IV., p. 920, and Neue Zeitungen voo 
Gelehrten Sachen. Leipzig, 1729, p. jgi. 


free of cost and, besides this, a not inconsiderable income. 
Boys were attracted even from remote places to the founda- 
tion of the Thomasschule just as they were also to the 
richly endowed convent of St. Michael, at Liineburg. But 
beyond this the better classes began to keep aloof from a 
place of such evil repute. This is very clearly proved by 
the class lists of the lowest classes. In Ernesti's early time 
they had often numbered one hundred and twenty scholars; in 
1717 they show altogether no more than fifty-three. Those 
who did not send their children to the school of St. Nicholas 
preferred to send them to one of the many private schools, 
or kept a tutor which was not too extravagant, for the 
price of private lessons in Leipzig at that time was not more 
than from twelve to eighteen pfennigs. The lowest classes 
of the Thomasschule were frequented only by boys of the 
very worst character, who wanted to make a profit of singing 
at funerals, and had to be kept by the masters from running 
barefoot after them, and who were not at all above begging 
about the town. 41 The Council could at length no longer shut 
their eyes to this wretched state of things, and determined on 
a visitation of the school and a revision of its statutes. For 
a while, however, it was content with good intentions ; the 
Superintendent of the school appointed by the Council, 
Dr. Baudiss, warned them in 1709 that the school was in 
the direst need of the long-planned visitation, both as 
regarded the masters and the scholars. It was evident that 
the authorities were afraid to meddle, and let matters go on 
in their wild way. 

At last, in 1717, the reform was begun apparently in real 
earnest; the visitation was carried out, and each master was 
required to write a report on the condition of the school, and 
to state his wishes as to any improvements. Here much 
that was far from pleasant came to light. The venerable 
Ernesti himself was obliged to confess: " On this opportunity 
I cannot conceal to what an extent a very sad state of things 
has hitherto obtained in the Classes inferiores, which, indeed, 
have almost ceased to exist. Also I cannot do otherwise 

41 According to a sketch penned probably by Gesner. 


than write, with deep regret, of the condition at this time 
of the Superiores, and particularly of the Chorus musicus, 
that there is more of evil to be guarded against than of good 
to be hoped for." Then a few more years slipped away ; in 

1721 a project was drawn up for a new school code, and in 

1722 it was made public. In point of fact, little or no 
improvement was to be gained from it : Ernesti withstood to 
the utmost every kind of change. So far as it bore upon 
the distribution of the school and choir funds and other money 
matters, he read it as an insult to his old age, and an 
abridgement of his emoluments ; and in this he was seconded 
by the Cantor. It then seemed only reasonable not to hurt 
the old man's feelings, so the old state of things was allowed 
to continue, or rather, to grow worse and worse, till his 
death, October 16, 1729. On November n of the same 
year all the foundation scholars were cited to appear before 
the Council and earnestly admonished as to the unseemly 
irregularity of their lives and insubordination to the masters. 
On August 30, 1730, the Superintendent of the school, Dr. 
Stiglitz, the Counsellor of Appeal, reported a disagreement 
among the " Herren Praeceptoren," and that, because all 
and each did not duly fulfil his official duties, a falling-off in 
discipline, and disorders in the lives and conduct of the 
scholars were only too rife. The school, he said, was "fast 
going to ruin, and had almost run wild." Soon after this 
the number of scholars in the lower classes was so small 
that it was proposed to close them altogether. 

Of course all these circumstances reacted on the character 
of the choirs. We could not, in any case, speak very 
favourably of their efforts in the seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries. The bold statement with which J. A. Hiller 
opens his Anweisung zum Musikalisch richtigen Gesange 
(1774) " Every one sings, and the greater number sing 
badly" was an even more pointed truth fifty or a hundred 
years previously. At that time there was nowhere in 
Germany any true art of singing, much less could it 
have found a refuge in the school choirs. No available 
material for a good choir could have been found among 
uneducated boys' and immature men's voices, even if more 


favourable conditions of general culture and higher views of 
art had prevailed than those which, in the prospectus of 
studies, considered that, next to the glory of God, the first 
aim and end of the singing classes was the promotion of the 
scholars' digestion. 42 The universal and secular institution 
of professional singing had, no doubt, done much to cherish 
a feeling for music, and to preserve the connection between 
the people and that branch of art ; but there is no doubt, too, 
that the custom had done at least as much to hinder the 
development of singing as an art. Those long, slow peram- 
bulations, almost always in the most inclement seasons, 
during which the scholars either sang from house to house 
for hours in the cold foggy air, or else scampered in breath- 
less haste up and down long flights of stairs, so as to sing 
before the door of each separate inhabitant, were absolute 
ruin to the voices. Kuhnau spoke from an experience of 
many years when he stated, in 1717, that the best singers, 
and particularly the trebles, if they were not taken proper 
care of in all these funerals, weddings, and perambulations, 
lost their voices long before they had reached a moderate 
proficiency in the art of using them. 43 Now we must 
remember, too, that these singers were untrained youths 
who wasted all the money they earned by singing in 
prohibited pleasures, and were often enfeebled and miser- 
able from disease. It cannot have been a very pleasing 
task to work with such materials. 

There was another thing which, before 1710, had brought 
the choir of the Thomasschule completely to ruin. Leipzig 
was in dangerous proximity to Dresden and Weissenfels, two 
courts much addicted to opera music. In the prevailing 
influx of foreigners it seemed to be a timely and promising 
undertaking when, in 1693, Nikolaus Strungk opened an 

42 The hora Cantoris was always from twelve to one, thus immediately after 
dinner (see Ungewitter, Die Entwickelung des Gesangunterrichtes in den 
Gymnasien seit die Reformationszeit, Konigsberg, in Pr. 1872, p. n). This, to 
be sure, was not the case in the Thomasschule, since the dinner hour was 
ten. But even so refined a mind as Gesner's could go so far as to propose that 
the dinner hour should be eleven, in order that the singing lesson might follow 
it, as this was the healthiest form of exercise after eating. 

See Appendix B, IV., D. 


opera-house of his own in the Briihl, in which at Fair time 
" certain operas were performed." The Leipzig opera it is 
true had not existed any longer than that at Hamburg, 
and had certainly always stood far behind it, because 
it was only open at certain short seasons of the year. 
It was closed in 1729, and the opera-house pulled down. 
Still, it had lasted long enough to produce a marked 
influence for some few decades on the musical life of the 
place. In the licence for its opening the Elector expressed 
a hope that the Leipzig opera might contribute to the 
advancement of art, and at the same time prove a sort of 
preliminary school for the Dresden opera, meaning with 
regard to the instrumentalists, since he could not use the 
German vocalists among his Italians. 44 In the first place, 
it is certain that the opera for a long period ruined the native 
musical tendencies of Leipzig. The man who, perhaps uncon- 
sciously, dealt them the first decisive blow was Telemann ; 
and it is a singular coincidence that, after Kuhnau's death, 
the Council exerted itself greatly to place him at the head of 
an institution he had done so much to damage. It has been 
mentioned that Telemann, while a student in Leipzig, 
developed great talents as a poet, composer, and director 
of opera. In 1704 he was appointed to the post of organist 
and director of the music in the New Church. The church 
choir was usually composed of scholars from St. Thomas' ; 
and, as the Cantor of the school had been completely 
ignored in the question, Kuhnau took offence, and not 
without reason. 

The direct connection between opera and sacred music 
which thus took form in the person of Telemann at once 
exerted its baleful influence. Formerly the St. Thomas' 
choir had derived a by no means contemptible amount of 
support from students with musical tastes and good voices, 
some of whom had belonged to the school and still clung to 
its traditions. Even when the opera was opened, and the 
students who could sing joined it for amusement and profit, 

41 Geschichte des Theaters in Leipzig. Von dessen ersten Spuren bis auf 
die neueste Zeit. Leipzig, 1818. 


the custom survived among them of joining the choir in 
the Sunday and festival performances. But since one of 
themselves had written the operas for them, had formed 
a musical society among them, and was now directing the 
church music, they attached themselves to him, and left 
Kuhnau in the lurch. 45 The performances in the New Church 
found a rapidly increasing popularity ; not only was a lively 
and operatic style of music to be heard there, but a fresh 
and excellent method of execution. The musical union 
which had originated these performances soon assumed 
important dimensions, and for twenty years or more it 
was the most important musical institution of Leipzig. 
Its directors were the organists of the New Church, and so 
it naturally followed that they were always closely con- 
nected. Among Telemann's successors, Melchior Hoffmann 
(1705 to 1715) seems to have presided over it at its most 
brilliant period. It often numbered as many as sixty 
members, who met twice a week, on Wednesdays and 
Fridays, from eight till ten in the evening, for general 
practice. Their performances, which only took place on 
grand occasions, or at Fair time, were always regarded as 
public events. The union kept up its connection with the 
opera through its directors, who also trod in Telemann's 
footsteps in composing for the Leipzig stage. The circle 
was in truth a jolly one ; during the day they made music 
in pleasant society, and at night serenaded in the streets ; 
besides, at the regular practisings, which were held in a 
coffee-house in the market place, and from which listeners 
were not excluded, there was a general cheerfulness which 
was in strong contrast to the school practisings. The hope 
which the Elector had expressed as to the Leipzig opera 
was to a great extent fulfilled by the Musical Union of the 
town. On various occasions when the ruling heads of 
Saxony and other provinces came to Leipzig they had to 
perform before them, and their best members found engage- 
ments in the bands of the Elector and other princes. 
Thus Pisendel and Blochwitz went to Dresden, Bohm to 

See Appendix B, IV., A. 


Darmstadt, and the singers Bendler and Petzhold to 
Wolfenbiittel and Hamburg. Others, who had previously 
been opera singers, when they came to Leipzig, joined the 
Union. But, on the whole, vocal music was less well repre- 
sented than instrumental, as was very usual at that time. 
For the performances in the New Church the vocal parts 
were allotted to single voices ; Stb'lzel, who belonged to the 
Union between 1707 and 1710, has handed down to us the 
names of the four singers at that time. The bass was Lang- 
masius, afterwards Kammerrath at Eisenach ; the tenor was 
Helbig, afterwards secretary to the Government at Eisenach, 
and a writer of cantata texts; 46 the treble was Markgraf, 
who, at a later period was Conrector in Augsburg ; and, as 
alto, Stolzel thinks he remembers a certain Krone, who died 
at Weimar as private musician to the Duke. Hoffmann 
himself was an excellent musician, who endeavoured to 
extend the circle of musical knowledge ; in 1710, he is said 
to have made a tour of two years' duration in the interests of 
art, and to have visited England ; in the meantime his 
place was taken in the musical union by Pisendel, a famous 
violinist. 47 Hoffmann's successor was Johann Gottfried 
Vogler, "a lively composer and good violinist," asTelemann 
says. A certain " liveliness " appears to have characterised 
his life as well as his music ; he ran into debt, and in 1719, 
at the time of the Michaelmas fair, he secretly vanished from 
the town. 48 The affair attracted much notice, and he seems 
to have been caught and brought back, for he received his 
salary up to the first quarter of the next year, inclusive ; but 
that for the second quarter was withheld because he had 
made away with some instruments belonging to the church, 
and had not yet restored them. At the third quarter his 
place was taken by Georg Balthasar Schott, who is already 
known to us as a competitor with Bach for the post of Cantor 
to the Thomasschule. 

46 See p. 12. 

47 Mattheson, Grosse Gen. Bassschule, p. 173. Ehrenpf., p. 117. Sicul, op. 
cit., p. 414. Gerber, L., I., col. 656. 

48 " Continuation derer Leipzigischen Jahrbiicher von Anno, 1714, bis. 1728." 
MS. in fol. in the town Library at Leipzig ; Pressmark, Vol. 18. 


So long as the musical union of students and the opera 
gave the tone to the music of Leipzig, the Cantor fell on 
evil days. The lack of sympathisers and assistants was all 
the more keenly felt, because it was always most conspicuous 
on festivals and at Fair times, when he was in greatest need 
of reinforcement, and wanted to appear in a favourable light 
before strangers ; for it was difficult to see what he could do 
with a wild mob of dirty schoolboys who had shouted them- 
selves hoarse in the streets, and a few very mediocre town 
musicians. Pieces of a high class could no longer be sung 
at all ; if he ever attempted them the performance was such 
a miserable result that he could only feel himself shamed 
before the audience. Formerly the Town Council had lent 
some assistance to the formation of the choir. In the time 
of Johann Schelle they had always four or five more founda- 
tion scholars to be maintained in the school than the revenues 
allowed, and as there were ample means for the purpose, 
this bounty benefited the music. But when Schelle died, 
and his wife was allowed to provide the food for the scholars, 
the Council, to assist her, removed these supernumeraries, 
and she had fewer to provide for, with the same money. 
Kuhnau was indefatigable in his exertions to restore the 
former state of things, or, at any rate, some substitute for it ; 
he represented that an increase of the musical resources of 
the school had never been more necessary, and the 
Superintendent supported his statement, but without any 
result worth mentioning. He could not even obtain that 
two trebles should be assigned to sing church music only 
and released from all other vocal duties. Since they then 
could have no share in the funeral and " runners' " money, 
some compensation would be indispensable, and the Council 
would not vote an equivalent. They granted a permission to 
release two boys each year from the New Year's perambula- 
tions, which were the most injurious, and they were to have in 
compensation four gulden a year for the two. 49 This was 
the end of it. Obviously the interest in supporting the 

49 Accounts of the churches of St. Thomas and St. Nicholas 


music of St. Thomas and St. Nicholas was waning when so 
much better could be heard in the New Church. 

After Vogler had withdrawn, Kuhnau made a last attempt 
to recover the lost ground. He represented that the ten- 
dencies of the " Operists " in the New Church were destroy- 
ing all feeling for true church music among the citizens; 
that the organ was belaboured first by one and then by 
another pair of " unwashed hands," since the director of the 
music either could not play or, after the manner of the 
" Operists," was constantly away. It would be better that 
a really permanent organist should be appointed, and that 
the direction of the music should be given to the Cantor of 
St. Thomas'. Then every Sunday music could be properly 
performed in the three churches alternately, just as now was 
done in two; and when, on festivals, cantatas were to be 
given in all three churches, as heretofore, the Cantor could 
very well give these also, since he would then have at his 
command a large number of students, and could distribute 
them among the churches according to his judgment. The 
students must have a gratuity in order that they might be 
ready and willing in the matter, and a student might also be 
appointed as organist in the New Church. If, however, the 
Council would not consent to all this, some means must at 
least be thought of to attach those young men who quitted 
the school for the University to the choir of St. Thomas. 50 
But again Kuhnau wrote in vain. Schott was appointed 
organist and director of the music, and all went on in the 
old way. Kuhnau once more made a timid attempt at 
opposition in 1722, when he made difficulties as to 
lending the scholars for the Passion Music in the New 
Church, but he was ruthlessly called to order by the Council. 

To put a climax to the confusion the St. Thomas' boys 
caught the opera fever. This was, indeed, not to be wondered 
at when they had the temptation perpetually before their 
eyes, As soon as they had attained a certain proficiency in 
singing and music in the school, they pined to escape from 
its narrow bounds and find themselves at liberty, dreamed of 

See Appendix B, IV., E. 


artists' laurels and ceased to be of any use where they were. 
If they then could make acquaintance with any operatic 
impresario, the most advanced among them could obtain 
engagements; they straightway demanded to be released 
from their school indentures, and if this were not granted 
they ran away, returning with some opera troupe at Fair 
time, and exciting the envy of their former schoolmates by 
their appearance on the boards and at the New Church. A 
treble named Pechuel had gone, by permission of the 
Council, from time to time to Weissenfels to perform in the 
opera; in the course of time he wished to extend these 
excursions and to take a leading part at Naumburg. The 
Council forbade this, and then the young genius broke his 
bonds and ran away ; two years later a bass named Pezold 51 
followed his example. A respectable citizen of Leipzig had 
aided and abetted them both, and it is not hard to see on 
which side the sympathy of the public was. When Kuhnau 
died the music of the Thomasschule was at the lowest 
possible ebb, and the twelve months of interregnum which 
followed before another Cantor was appointed certainly did 
nothing to mend matters. 

It is impossible that Bach should not have been exactly 
informed of all these circumstances, as he was intimately 
acquainted with Kuhnau, and had been in Leipzig several 
times. As has been said, he doubted for a long time 
whether he should do wisely in becoming Kuhnau's 
successor, and in more than one respect these doubts were 
well founded. Did Leipzig then offer him some special 
temptation as a musician, some opening and incitement to 
profitable effort in his art ? It is difficult to answer this 
question in the affirmative. There were no remarkable 
musicians there at the time ; the only one, besides Kuhnau, 
who had done anything important in his own branch 
of art was Daniel Vetter, 52 who had died two years before, 

61 Probably the same who afterwards distinguished himself in the Musical 

62 " Herr Vetter, our able Organist here." See the report on the Organist 
of St. Paul's church in Die andere Beylage zu dem Leipziger Jahrbuche, 
1718, p. 198. 

II. P 


as Organist to the church of St. Nicholas. This absence 
of fellow artists would certainly have been no great grief to 
Bach, a man of such vigorous productivity and such 
emphatic independence, if only he had had at his command 
some means and resources worthy of him, to enable him 
to do himself justice. Leipzig was a populous town, a 
centre of resort, and stirred by various interests ; but a focus 
of art, such as Dresden, Vienna, Munich, or even Hamburg, 
it certainly was not. It was, no doubt, to some extent 
musical, but that was common to all Germany. No special 
effort on the part of the better class of citizens to develop 
anything truly artistic is at that time discernable; it was not 
till Bach was growing old, and it was too late, so far as he 
was concerned, that a different spirit began to show itself. 
It was only among the student class that any love and 
taste for music were manifested. Kuhnau might, indeed, 
have succeeded in attaching the Academic youth to himself 
if he had been less hesitating and less conservative ; even 
side by side with Telemann's flourishing musical union it 
might have been accomplished, if only he had known how to 
grasp the matter ; but he did not. He saw Fasch who for 
many years was his pupil founding a second Musical Union 
among the students, which established itself as securely in 
the University Church as Telemann's had done in the New 
Church. 53 The new organ, which was finished in the 
autumn of 1716, was entrusted to a very diligent musician 
in the person of Gottlieb Gorner. It cannot now be 
ascertained whether the Musical Union directed by Gorner 
was that founded by Fasch, or whether, indeed, that society 
survived to his time ; we only know for certain that Gorner 
was at the head of such a Collegium musicum when Bach was 
appointed Cantor. 54 

Gorner, who was born in 1697, had been made organist of 
St. Nikolaus after Vetter's death. When, in the autumn of 
1729, old Christian Grabner died, he succeeded him as 
organist to St. Thomas'. He was thus, to a certain extent, 

63 See the document by Bach, given presently in the account of his quarrel 
with the University. 
** Das jetzt lebende und florirende Leipzig, 1723, 8, p. 59. 


under Bach's direction ; but it did not at all meet Gorner's 
views to give way to the greater man ; on the contrary, he 
boldly put himself forward as his rival. When, in the 
winter of 1727-8, there was a public mourning, he asked 
permission to continue, notwithstanding, his musical 
gatherings. For said he in his Union the students 
coming from the school brought to perfection any skill they 
might have acquired there, and were enabled to make them- 
selves heard at the performances at the Fair times, and thus 
found their way to places as cantors and organists. 65 Thus 
when the scholars left Bach's hands they received the 
finishing polish from Gorner ! His audacious pretensions 
are all the more singular, because he seems to have been in 
fact but a very mediocre musician. A contemporary Leipzig 
musician, Johann Adolf Scheibe, in the year 1737, recorded 
a very bitter opinion of him, which may, no doubt, have been 
influenced by personal feeling, but cannot, on the whole, be 
very far from the truth : " He has been engaged in music 
for many years, and it might be supposed that experience 
would have brought him into the right way ; but nothing 
can be more disorderly than his music. The real mean- 
ing of the different modes of writing according to their 
distribution (of parts) is wholly unknown to him. Rules are 
things he must daily dispense with, for he knows them not. 
He can never set a pure line (of music), and the grossest 
blunders grace or disgrace every bar. In a word he can 
depict disorder in his music to perfection." Then, as to his 
character : " He is so completely possessed by conceit and 
rudeness that through the first he does not know himself, 
and through the second asserts his pre-eminence among a 
large number of his equals." On a subsequent occasion 
Scheibe still further embitters this verdict and adds : " Nor 
would he be even what he is if a certain man had not done 
everything for him. And the result he has shown is that on 
a certain occasion when he could and ought to have proved 
himself grateful, he was anything rather than grateful, 

" Ephoralarchiv," at Leipzig : " Trauer Feiern beim Absterben der 
Sachsischen Fiirsten," Vol. I. 

P 2 


but repaid the kindness that had been done him by a piece 
of treacherous spite." 56 Who is meant by this benefactor 
does not appear; but it throws a significant light on the 
state of affairs in Leipzig that such a man as Gorner 
should have played his part by the side of Bach for a whole 
generation. And at the University Church he had planted 
his foot so firmly that Bach could not succeed in getting him 
removed in spite of his own powerful name and influence. 

We will now contemplate Bach's position in all its 
aspects. This time, more than ever before, he had taken 
a step into the unknown ; he had made the venture to use 
his own words in the name of the Most High. The 
craving and need of his artist soul to live once more under 
circumstances where there was work worth doing to be 
done for music seemed likely to find some satisfaction in 
Leipzig. The downward step from Capellmeister to 
Cantor for so it was deemed at that time was made 
easier to him by the high position the Cantor of St. Thomas' 
held among musicians. Seth Calvisius, Hermann Schein, 
Tobias Michael, Sebastian Kniipffer, Johann Schelle, and 
Johann Kuhnau, who had held the appointment in suc- 
cession during one hundred and twenty-five years, had all 
been distinguished some of them highly distinguished 
practical musicians and learned men. To continue the 
series was an honour, and Bach felt it as such. Besides, 
the post gave him some tangible advantages, and it would 
seem that it was this which turned the balance. The place 
was endowed and the duties were light ; at the same time 
this did not mean that for their complete fulfilment a man 
of merit and of mettle was not required ; but there was no 
overwhelming load of official work ; Bach would have time 
enough for his own occupations. Finally, he would now be 
enabled to give his sons a superior education without too 
great a pecuniary sacrifice. How near his heart this matter 
lay is shown by a little circumstance. On December 22, 
when he had been about six months in Leipzig, 

56 Johann Adolf Scheibe, Critischer Musikus, New Ed., Leipzig, 1745, p. 60. 
Corner's name is not mentioned, nor that of the place ; but there is ample 
evidence that he and Leipzig are meant. The passage was written in 1737. 


he applied to the university to have his son, Wilhelm 
Friedemann, then thirteeen years old, entered on the 
register as a future student (academic citizen), although 
it was not till April 5, 1729, that he actually became a 
member of the University. 57 Such an early nomination was 
not unheard-of; it even sometimes happened that a matri- 
culation at the University was a christening gift from a 
godfather. Bach appears to have given it to his favourite 
son as a Christmas-box. If against these advantages he 
could not but weigh the dark side of the appointment, he 
no doubt hoped that the great fame he enjoyed and the 
influence of his strong individuality would bring the choir 
into better condition, and that by degrees he might get 
the management of all the musical concerns and under- 
takings of Leipzig into his own hands. However great the 
talents of his predecessors, in celebrity he beyond a question 
stood far above them ; the name of Bach was famous far 
and near the great player, who came from a Prince's court, 
and was the friend of Princes. Indeed, he not only con- 
tinued to hold the honorary post of Capell-meister at Cb'then, 
but in the very year of his removal to Leipzig the same 
honour was conferred on him by the Court of Weissenfels. 53 






THE direction of the music in the University Church was 

not inseparable from the office of Cantor to St. Thomas' ; 

it was, however, customary, and had been from time 

immemorial allowed by the Council, that he should have 

the charge of it. So long as the University Church was 

67 " Bach, Wilhelm Friedemann, Vinario-Thuringensis" under the heading 
of Depositi, nondum inscripti, of December 22, 1723. 

58 Walther, Lexicon, p. 64. Among the deeds of appointment of the Weissen- 
fels court from 1712 to 1745, which are preserved among the State Archives at 
Dresden, all those belonging to 1723 are wanting, including, of course, that of Bach. 


opened only on the three great festivals, on the festival of 
the Reformation, and for the quarterly speeches, no severe 
tax was thus laid on the Cantor. But since 1710 a regular 
Sunday service had been performed there, and consequently 
the post of the director of the music became very important. 
Kuhnau had been able to secure it for himself, though, in 
the first instance, Fasch had attempted to establish there a 
musical union that should be independent of the Cantor. 
By great efforts and sacrifices Kuhnau had succeeded in 
exploding this scheme ; he declared himself fully prepared to 
fulfil these new duties without any emolument, and this was 
a consideration 59 to which the University was keenly alive. 
After Kuhnau's death Gorner for a time took his place as 
director of the music at the University Church. Bach's 
accurate comprehension of the position is shown by the fact 
that he made it his first business to get this function out of 
Corner's hands. Unless he could create for himself a strong 
following among the University students, there could be no 
prospect of his moulding the musical affairs of the town 
according to his own views. His appointment was con- 
firmed to him on the i3th of May. The first church cantata 
he composed as Cantor of St. Thomas' he conducted on the 
30th of May, the first Sunday after Trinity, before he took 
his place in the school, thus, as it were, inaugurating his 
musical labours as Cantor. He had already begun his 
duties as Musical Director to the University a fortnight 
earlier, on Whit Sunday at any rate, he had supplied them 
with a composition of his own. 60 But Gorner knew very 
well what the upshot must be, and had determined to save 
as much for himself as possible. On the four great festivals 
and the quarterly speeches he knew he must retire into the 
background ; the Cantor's claims were too strongly supported 
by ancient rights of custom ; but it was different with regard 
to the regular Sundays and the other church holidays. It 
appears that Gorner had set it very clearly before the 
University that, with all his duties in the churches of St. 

69 See Appendix B, IV., C. 

60 See Bach's detailed statement as to his quarrel with the University, 
towards the end of it. 


Thomas and St. Nicholas, the Cantor could not always pro- 
vide with due punctuality for the performance of the service 
in St. Paul's, whicn began when the others were only about 
half over. At any rate, Gorner still continued to officiate in 
the New service, as it was called, as Musical Director to the 

In the third place there were the extraordinary University 
high days to be considered. With regard to these Bach 
took his stand on the ground that they had been customary 
long before the arrangement was made for the New service, 
and that the Cantor had always presided over them ; that, 
consequently, they constituted part of his duties, and he 
proceeded to act on this basis. On Monday, August 4, 
1723, the birthday of Duke Friedrich II., of Sax-Gotha a 
prince who had specially distinguished himself in promoting 
the cause of learning and of the church was solemnly 
kept ; a Bachelor of Philosophy, named Georg Grosch, 61 
delivered a discourse, De mentis Serenissimi Friderici in rem 
litterariam et veram pietatem ; which was followed by a Latin 
ode composed and conducted by Bach "an admirable piece 
of music," says the Leipzig chronicler ; " so that this 
solemnity was concluded to everybody's satisfaction by 
about eleven o'clock in the morning." 62 Heinrich Nikolaus 
Gerber, who in 1724 went to the Leipzig University, at a 
later date told his son that he had heard many concerts 
at that time under Bach's direction. 68 As any music but 
church music is out of the question, and as Bach did not 
direct any Union of his own, this can only 'mean academic 
performances. 64 

Meanwhile Bach's vigorous self-assertion from the very 
first, by no means settled the matter at once. Gorner 
evidently was a favourite with those who gave the cue 

61 Grosch was a native of Gotha, and in 1724 became the Prince's tutor: 
he subsequently held various livings in that province. (Archives of Gotha.) 

62 Vogel ; Continuation Derer Leipzigischen Jahrbiicher. 

63 Gerber, L., I., col. 491. 

In the ACTA LIPSIENSIUM ACADEM1CA, Leipzig, 1723, p. 514, 
Bach is called " Cantor and Collegii Musici Director." Possibly Collegii is a 
slip of the pen or a misprint for chori ; at any rate, it is quite certain that the 
St. Thomas' choir is what is meant. 


to the University, and he also received an honorarium out 
of the fund set aside for the Cantor's services. At last, 
Bach, who knew very well how to reckon, and was par- 
ticularly precise in money matters, thought this beyond 
a joke. After swallowing the affront for two years with 
as good a grace as he might, he resolved that, even if he 
could not take the whole direction out of the hands of Gorner, 
who was tough to deal with, he could at any rate secure his 
income. He, therefore, addressed a petition to the King- 
Elector at Dresden, by which he thought he should obtain 
full security for his interests, all the more as he was in 
favour at court : 



May your Royal Majesty and Most Serene Highness graciously 
permit me to represent, with the humblest submission, with regard to 
the Directorship of the Music for the Old and New services of the 
church in the Worshipful University of Leipzig, that, together with the 
salary and usual fees, they had always been associated and joined with 
the place of Cantor at St. Thomas', even during the lifetime of my 
predecessor ; that after his death, and while the post was vacant, they 
were given to the Organist of St. Nicholas, Gorner; and that, on my 
assuming my office, the direction of the so-called Old service was 
restored to me again, but the payment was withheld and assigned, with 
the direction of the New service, to the above-mentioned organist of St. 
Nicholas; and, although I have sued duly to the Worshipful University, 
and made application that the former regulations may be restored, I have 
nevertheless not been able to obtain anything more than that I should 
have half of the salary, which formerly amounted to twelve gulden. 

Nevertheless and notwithstanding, Most Gracious King and Elector, 
the Worshipful University expressly required and assumed that I 
should appoint and direct the music for the Old service, and I have 
hitherto fulfilled this function; and the salary which has been given to 
the director of the New service did not formerly belong to it but 
properly to the Old services ; and at the same time the New were 
connected with the Old ; and, if I were not to dispute the right of 
directing the New service with the organist of St. Nicholas, still 
the retention of the salary which formerly and at all times nay, even 
before the new cultus was instituted belonged to the Cantor, is ex- 
tremely painful and prejudicial to me: and church patrons are not 
wont to dispose otherwise of what it assigned and fixed as the regular 
payment of a church servant, either withholding it altogether, or 
reducing it, while I have already for more than two years been forced 


to fulfil my duties concerning the above-mentioned Old service for 
nothing. Now, if my humble suit and petition may find favour with 
your Royal Majesty and Most Serene Highness, you will graciously 
communicate it to the Worshipful University, to the end that they 
may restore the former state of things, and assign to me, with the 
direction of the Old service that also of the New, and more par- 
ticularly the full salary of the Old service and the enjoyment of the 
fees accruing from both. And for such Royal and gracious favour, 
I shall ever remain, 

Your Royal Majesty's and Serene Highness's 

Most humble and obedient 


Addressed to the Most Serene and Most Potent Prince and Lord 
The Lord Friedrich Augustus, King of Poland (Here follow all his 
Titles) my Most Gracious King, Elector, and Sovereign. 65 

Bach was not deceived in his presumption. On the I7th 
of September a requisition was forwarded from the Ministry 
at Dresden to the University to relieve the petitioner or to 
adduce their reasons to the contrary. The expedition 
brought to bear on the matter was so great that there seems 
not even to have been time to read Bach's petition ; in the 
references to his statement of grievances there are inaccu- 
racies by which the circumstances are placed in a false light. 66 

The University attempted to justify itself in every par- 
ticular, and caused Bach to be informed that they had 
forwarded their version of the case. Bach, however, had 
reason to suppose that in this statement the affair had not 
been truly represented, and to forefend an unfavourable deci- 
sion he wrote a second time to the king : 



After that your Royal Majesty had most graciously been pleased 
to issue your orders in the matter of the request preferred by me on 
the one part, and by the University of this town on the other part 

The said University submitted the required very humble report, 
and duly notified me of its departure ; and I, on the other hand, 
for my further need, deem it necessary to observe that if my most 
humble petition may find favour with your Royal Majesty and Serene 
Highness you will communicate to me a copy of the said report, and be 

66 This letter is in the Archives at Dresden, and was obligingly copied fbir 
me by Herr Moritz Fiirstenau. 

86 This and the following documents are in the Archives at Leipzig. 


graciously pleased to wait, and defer your Sovereign determination till 
I again have made the necessary representations ; and I will not fail to 
hasten with them as much as possible, and for the whole of my life 
remain with the deepest submission, 

Your Royal Majesty's and Serene Highness's 
Most obedient and humble 


[Addressed as before.] 07 

This petition was granted. He then preferred a thorough 
refutation of the justification drawn up by the University. 
The document is extremely interesting, for it displays, as no 
other does, Bach's keen and business-like intelligence and 
incisive mode of expressing himself: 


I beg to acknowledge, with the humblest thanks, your Royal 
Majesty's and Serene Highness's favour in graciously condescending to 
allow to be communicated to me the copy of that document in which 
the University of this place objected to my accusation brought against 
it, as concerning the direction of the music in the Old and New services 
in the Church of St. Paul, and the salary belonging to the former of the 
two, which has hitherto been withheld. Although I am of opinion that 
the University will at once indemnify me, as is proper, and grant my 
well-founded suit without further formality, it must yet be examined 
how they make various excuses, and give themselves the trouble to 
make themselves out innocent, that is to say : 

(I.) That I had stated without reason that the direction of the music 
for the Old and New services was necessarily connected with the office 
of Cantor to St. Thomas' nay, that the University in giving the above- 
mentioned Direction was in libertate naturali, whereby, however, they 
cannot contest with me the direction of the Old divine service, nor 
can they deny that on account of the fulfilment of those duties, they 
paid me an honorarium. Moreover, 

(II.) That my representations that I had hitherto had to do my duty 
for nothing surprised them all the more, since it was clear from the 
Rationes Rectorales, that at all the Quarterly Orationes, and at the three 
great Festivals, as well as the Festuin Reformationis Lutheri a special 
and profitable honorarium of 13 thlrs. 10 gr. was paid me, and that I 
have hitherto received it. Also 

(III.) That I have hitherto not generally presided in person at the 
Quarterly Orationes, but, as the register shows, have allowed the 
Prefects to direct the singing of the motetts. Likewise 

67 This letter is autograph throughout. The seal seems to be the rose with 
a crown. See Vol. I., p. 39, note 76. 


(IV.) That, in consequence of his Sunday and holy day duties, the 
Cantor of St. Thomas' is quite unable to undertake at the same time the 
direction of the music in the University Church without prejudice to it, 
and confusion ; since he would also have, at very nearly the same hour, 
to direct the music in the churches of St. Thomas and St. Nicholas. 

(V.) It is very expressly stated that a new honorarium, of 12 fl. 
was newly granted to my predecessor on account of the direction 
of the music for the new service. Moreover 

(VI.) That so many difficulties were made on the part of the Council 
with reference to the St. Thomas' scholars and the town musicians 
that the University availed itself of the services of its students, and 
was forced to consider of the selection of another individual who might 
in his own person preside unhindered over the direction of the music, 
and who could better maintain that good understanding with those 
students who refused to assist the Cantor without additional payment. 
To which it was added 

(VII.) That during the long vacancy of the office after the death of 
the former Cantor, the University had given over the direction of the 
music for the New service to Johann Gottlieb Gbrner, and assigned to 
him the new salary devoted to it of 12 fl., so that this salary had 
nothing to do with the former direction of the Old service, but was 
a new institution. 

But, Most Gracious King, Elector, and Sovereign, these objections 
brought forward by the University are not founded on fact, and are 
quite easy to refute. For, in the first place 

(I.) As to the connection of the New Service with the Old, I did not 
say that the connection was a necessary one, only that the direction of 
the latter had formerly been combined with that of the former, and 
it was not for me to inquire as to the power and liberty of joining or 
separating them ; that can be settled in the proper place : On the 
contrary, I admit that the direction of the Old service, according to 
previous custom (as set forth) in the very humble report would be 
granted and vouchsafed to me. But, if this were so, the Direction of 
the music at the solemn Acts, ceremonies of the universities, of con- 
ferring Doctors' degrees, and others, which take place in St. Paul's 
church, with the fees accruing from them, ought not to be withheld from 
me, because all this, at any rate as regards the music, was in direct 
connection with the Old service, according to custom before the New 
service was instituted. In the next place 

(II.) It surprises me not a little how the University can refer to a 
profitable honorarium of 13 thlrs. 10 gr., which I ought to have received 
from them, and deny and contradict that I have hitherto performed 
the work for nothing, since the honorarium is something apart from the 
salary, which is 12 fl., and this gratuity does not include the salary ; 
how too, my complaint can have been regarded as concerning not the 


honorarium but the ordinary salary of 12 fl. attached to the Old service, 
which, however, has hitherto been withheld from me nay, since it 
can be proved from the Rationes Rectorales put forward by the University 
itself, that this honorarium, which ought to have amounted to 13 thlrs. 
10 gr., has not once been paid in full, but that each quarter the two beadles, 
as they could depose on oath, have paid to me instead of the 20 gr. 6 pf., 
as set down in the Rationes Rectorales, no more than 16 gr. 6 pf. ; 
and at the three high festivals, as also on the Festum Reformationis 
Lutheri, each time instead of 2 thlrs. 12 gr. no more than one thaler. 
Thus, instead of 13 thlrs. 12 gr. altogether, only 6 thlrs. 18 grs. in the 
year ; also my predecessors, Schelle and Kuhnau (witness the attesta- 
tions of their widows sub lit. A and B), received a no larger sum for 
the quarterly and festival music, and consequently never gave receipts 
for any larger sum, and yet in the extract from this Rationes Rectorales 
a much higher quantum is set down. That 

(III.) I have frequently not attended the quarterly Orationes, and that 
the register of October 25, 1725, proves this, is of no importance; for, 
from the month and the date, it appears that the entry was made in the 
register after I had previously complained against the University, 
while before that time nothing had been registered against me ; thus 
my absence did not happen more than once or twice, and then, indeed, 
ob impedimenta legitima, since I was travelling on necessity, and, in par- 
ticular, several times had business in Dresden ; moreover, the Prefects 
are appointed under the Cantor to the before-mentioned quarterly 
music, so that my predecessors, Schelle and Kuhnau, never conducted 
these in person, but the singing of the motetts was arranged and 
directed by the Prefects. 

(IV.) Neither can it have any foundation when the University urges 
that the attendances for the music in the two churches are not com- 
patible for one person ; for certainly the instance which might be given 
of Corner, the Organist of St. Nicholas' Church in this town, is far 
more striking, since it was even less compatible for him to direct the 
music in both churches in his own person, because the Organist had not 
only in the same way to be at one and the same time at the Church of 
St. Nicholas and in that of St. Paul, to attend to the music before and 
after the sermon, but also had to play the organ even to the very last 
hymn, while on the other hand the Cantor, after having performed his 
music, can go out, and need not stay for the hymns at the close of 
divine service ; and the late Kuhnau in his time did both quite well, 
without prejudice and confusion, and in the church, where no formal 
music is ordered, common music can be directed perfectly well by the 
Vicar ii and Prcefecti. 

(V.) As to what particularly regards the 12 fl. under discussion, the 
University can never again assert with reason that they began giving it to 
my predecessor as an independent gratuity on account of the direction of 
the music in the New service. The state of the case is rather that the 


12 fl. having been from time immemorial the salary for the arrangement 
of the music in the Old service, my predecessor, in order to avoid other 
consequences disadvantageous to himself which might be feared from the 
division of the director's duties, directed the music in the New service 
for nothing, and never demanded a penny for it, and thus never before 
enjoyed the said new gratuity of 12 fl. Nay, not only by Kuhnau but also 
by Schelle, and even before that, before anybody had ever thought of 
the New services, a receipt was always given for these 12 fl. And, 
as the widows of Schelle and Kuhnau, in their attestations, sub lit, 
A and B, distinctly state, the 12 fl. were always the regular salary 
for the arranging of the music in the Old service. The University 
cannot escape making public the above-mentioned receipts. Therefore 

(VI.) The salary connected with the music of the Old service cannot 
be tampered with, notwithstanding that the ordering of the New service 
was not well received by the students, and they would not assist the 
Cantor for nothing. Now, while this can be neither proved nor gain- 
said, and it is well known that students who are lovers of music are 
always ready and willing to assist, I, for my part, have never had 
any unpleasantness with the students ; they are wont to assist me 
in both vocal and instrumental music without hesitation, and to this 
hour gratis and without payment. Moreover 

(VII.) If the directorium of the music in the New service at that time 
and as far as regards Gorner himself was to remain in statu quo ; if, 
besides, no one had any doubt that a new salary could be granted on 
account of such new arrangements; then the salary of 12 fl. hitherto 
assigned to him was in no respect a new institution, nor assigned 
to the direction as anything new, but this was withdrawn from the 
directorium of the music in the Old service and not received by Gorner 
until subsequently, during the vacancy of the post of Cantor at St. 
Thomas' ; and when Gorner had the new direction assigned to him 
it was granted to that new direction. 

All the foregoing had even before been proved, nay, it is all a matter 
of notoriety to those who hitherto have had to do with the music in 
both churches, and by their deposition it could be still further confirmed 
and made public. In fact, I feel compelled here and now to adduce 
this particular circumstance : that two years since, when I took 
occasion to speak of the direction to the then Rector Magnificus Junius 
and he wanted to demonstrate the contrary to me out of a written 
account-book, which probably was a Liber Rationum Rectoralium, it 
must needs happen that on the page he opened appeared written the 
account, and my eyes fell on the plain words, " To Schelle, pro Directorio 
Musices, 12 fl., Salarium;" and this entry was then and there shown 
and pointed out by me to the Rector Magnificus Junius. 

Finally, the University have already granted and offered me the half of 
the payment of these 12 fl. through D. Ludovicus, who during last 
summer administered the rectoral affairs, and they certainly would not 


have done this had they not been convinced that the matter rests on sound 
foundations. Hence this alteration seems to me all the harder, when 
they choose to ignore all salary whatever, and to deprive me of it 
altogether. Afterwards, too, I expressly mentioned this offer, in my 
very humble memorial, but the University, in their counter-state- 
ment, pass over this point, and have answered nothing to it. Thus, in 
fact, by their silence the ground of my pretension and the justice of my 
case are established afresh and, as they themselves have been con- 
vinced, are tacitly acknowledged. 

Since the University, according to their own confession, offer me, for 
the Quartal-Orationes, 3 thlrs. 10 gr. per annum, and for the three high 
festivals and the Reformation Festival, a peculiar honorarium of 
10 thlrs. per annum, thus making in all 13 thlrs, 10 gr. by reason 
of the custom already referred to ; and as I, from the time when I 
entered into my duties under the University at Whitsuntide, 1723, until 
the end of 1725, which makes 2f years, ought altogether to have received 
36 thlrs. 18 grs. 6 pf., and have not received so much, but only n thlrs., 
in payment for many festival performances, and 7 thlrs. 13 grs. 6 pf. 
for eleven Quartal-Orationes, in all 18 thlrs. 13 gr. 6 pf. ; I thus have 
to require 18 thlrs. 5 gr., the regular salary of 12 fl. for 2j years .., 
33 fl. remaining owing. They, the University, since they are willing to 
agree as to the salary, and since they have already offered to give me 
the half of it, cannot eo ipso regard my request as unjust and unfounded, 
but must admit it ; also, since they in their humble report pass this 
over in silence, and thus once more tacitly admit the facts to me, and 
moreover, have not been able to adduce the smallest thing of any 
importance when my most submissive prayer is presented to your 
Royal Majesty and Electoral Serenity, be graciously pleased imme- 
diately to command the University that they not only acquiesce in 
the previous order of things, and henceforth confer upon me the full 
payment, consisting of 12 fl., for the old service, together with the 
fees of the Promotiones Doctorates and other solemn occasions formerly 
attached to it, but also that they shall hand over to me the arrears of 
honorarium amounting to 18 thlrs. 5 gr. and the regular salary already 
owing, amounting to 33 fl. and moreover, allow me all expenses incurred 
by me in this business, or else, inasmuch as the University may not 
be convinced by what has hitherto been adduced, that it shall be 
made to publish the receipts given by Schelle and Kuhnau, both as 
regards the special honorarium as well as the regular salary. This 
great favour I will recognise with humblest thanks all my life, and remain, 
Your Royal Majesty's and Electoral Serenity's 

Most humble and obedient, 


[Addressed with the full title as given above.] 68 

68 Without seal. The transcript of this document, preserved among the 
deeds of the University, is only signed by Bach, 


This was followed up by a document dated from Dresden 
Jan. 21, 1726, not very definite in tone, still apparently de- 
ciding in Bach's favour on the whole ; the presentation of 
this document to the University did not take place, strange 
to say, before May 23. Whether during these four months 
attempts were made to bring about a friendly compromise 
can only be conjecture ; even as regards the settlement of 
the money question, which became more and more prominent, 
we can come to no more definite conclusion. From a com- 
parison of various intimations, culled here and there during 
the following years, we are led to infer that Gorner remained 
at the head of the "New service." In the solemnities of 
the University, sometimes one and sometimes the other 
of the rivals seems to have been called in, but more fre- 
quently Bach. On August 3, 1725, he had composed, to order, 
a " Dramma per musica" in honour of the name day of Pro- 
fessor August Freidrich Miiller (" Der zufriedengestellte 
Aeolus" "Aeolus satisfied"), and after this, so soon as 
December n of the following year, he wrote another 
cantata, in honour of the promotion of Magister Gottlieb 
Korte to be Professor extraordinary; again, on May 12, 
1727, for the birthday of King Friedrich August, who 
happened just then to be in Leipzig, another Drama musicum, 
which was performed under his direction by the prizemen of 
the University ; then the music for the mourning celebration 
held in the University Church, October 17, of the same year, 
in memory of Queen Christiane Eberhardine, who died Sep- 
tember 5. Gorner, on the other hand, was commissioned to 
compose the Latin Ode which was sung in the University 
Church on that same Royal birthday. For the two-hundreth 
anniversary of the introduction of evangelical doctrine into 
Saxony, which was celebrated in the University on August 
25, 1739, Gorner also composed the music to a Latin Ode, 
of which the first portion was performed before and the 
second after the sermon. 69 On the first of these occasions 
we find him styled quite plainly Director Chori Musici 

89 Gretschel, Kirchliche Zustiinde Leipzigs vor und wahrend der Reformation, 
P- 293- 


Academici, of the New service in the Pauline.' 10 A 
report of the year 1736, in fact, names him alone as the 
Musical Director of the Academy, and adds that on grand 
occasions solemn music was performed by the students and 
other musicians, under his direction. 71 Still, this need not 
refer to academical performances, since the Musical Union 
was wont to hold independent festival concerts; thus, for 
instance, in that very year, 1736, Corner's Union gave a 
cantata in honour of the King's birthday with words by 
Joh. Joachim Schwabe. And it is very precisely pointed 
out, in the year 1728, that St. Paul's church had a special 
musical director, Herr Joh. Gottlieb Gb'rner for ordinary 
Sunday and holy day music, but that on other festivals 
and for the quarterly speeches the Cantor of St. Thomas' 
filled his place, as from time immemorial. 72 

Finally, Bach may very well have been content with the 
issue of his efforts. He had, at any rate, gained an established 
position among the music-loving youth of the University; 
and this was still farther secured when, in 1729, Schott 
went to Gotha as Cantor, and the direction of the famous 
old Musical Union founded by Telemann, fell into his 
hands. So far as the general condition of things at that 
time can be said to have allowed it, a good and favourable 
time for public musical performances would seem now to 
have dawned upon him. He performed regularly once a 
week with his Union ; in the summer season from four to 
six on Wednesday afternoons, in the Zimmermann Garden, in 
Windmiihlengasse (Wind Mill Street) ; in winter from eight 
to ten on Friday evenings, in the Zimmermann Coffee-house, 
in the Katharinenstrasse the corner house of the Bottcher 
Gasschen, now No. 7. During Fair times they played twice 
a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays. Under his direction 
the Union distinguished itself by several festival concerts. 
On December 8, 1733, he produced a Dramma per Musica 
for the Queen's birthday, "Tonet ihr Pauken, erschallet 

TO Sicul, (Christoph Ernst) ANNALIVM \ LIPSIENSIVM | MAXIMB 
ACADEMICORVM \ SECTIO XXIX. | &c., Leipzig, 1728. 8. 
11 Das jetzt lebende und florirende Leipzig, p. 32. 
ANTONII WEIZII Verbessertes Leipzig, 1728, p 12. 


Trompeten" "Sound ye drums, peal forth ye trumpets"; in 
January, 1734, another work of the same character, " Blast 
Larmen, ihr Feinde, verstarket die Macht," for the coronation 
festival of August III., both, of course, of his own com- 
position; and the old Weimar Cantata "Was mir behagt 
ist nur die muntre Jagd " had to serve again for the King's 
birthday, with different words. 73 And what was more, the 
Union ceased to perform in the New Church, and so was at 
liberty to do so in Bach's church music. The organist who 
had been appointed in Schott's stead, Carl Gotthelf Gerlach, 
was a protege of Bach's, and had obtained the place by his 
recommendation, 74 so he had to submit when his patron 
deprived him of the assistance of the Union ; but at the same 
time whether from a sense of propriety, or from their old 
preference for the musical performances in the New Church 
the Council supported him with, relatively speaking, 
abundant means for forming a small choir of his own for 
the needs of the service there. In later years Gerlach was 
promoted to be the director of Telemann's Musical Union, 
Bach himself retiring from the post. It is not known pre- 
cisely when this took place, it is only certain that it was 
after 1736. However, the good old days never returned for 
the New Church ; the Union seems even to have stood 
more completely aloof from it, as it lost its first importance 
and was passed from hand to hand. The focus of musical 
art in Leipzig had centred elsewhere by the year I74O. 75 

Bach of course took the management of the church music 
at St. Thomas' and St. Nicholas' vigorously in hand from 
the first. It is highly characteristic of him that he should 
have regarded his position as Cantor less as being that of 
a teacher in a public school which is what it certainly was, 
first and foremost than as a civic and official Conductorship, 
with the additional duty of giving certain lessons. His 
predecessors in office had been simply entitled Cantors; if the 
words Director Musices were added, they referred only to the 

w See Vol. I., p. 567. 

74 Gerlach had four rivals, but he was " praised by Herr Bach." 
76 See Appendix A., No. 14. 
II. Q 


University church. 76 Bach subscribes and describes himself 
almost always, and from the first, as Director Musices, or 
Chori Musici and Cantor, or even Director Musices alone ; 77 
and it is the exception, in speaking of singing rehearsals 
in the school itself, when he calls himself only Cantor. 
Even his pupils give him the title. 78 In a Leipzig 
address book of I723 79 he is thus designated; he evidently 
chose to assert his position as being an essentially 
musical and independent official, and would do so with all 
the more determination in proportion as the petty officials 
persisted in giving him the simple title of Cantor. This is 
very characteristic of the determined temper which supported 
him through many conflicts, for his outward conduct bespoke 
the inner man. The protestant church music had always 
depended on the school, and had become what it was 
through its instrumentality. It certainly was not mere 
caprice or arrogance which led Bach to regard his connection 
with the school as a secondary consideration. Bach's music 
is no doubt true church music, characterised by a style of 
its own ; but it is impossible not to perceive that it also 
contains the germ of an independent branch of concert music, 
and in the course of Bach's own labours this is now and 
then very prominent. He was conscious of this peculiarity 
in his art, and his determined insistance on his position as 
musical director, and not as a school and church employe", 
clearly proves this. 

The Town Council had received him with due respect, but 
in order to raise the standard of church music as he, on his 

76 Johann Schelle " was in 1677 Cantor at the Thomasschule, with which 
the University entrusted to him the Directorium Chori Musici in St. Paul's 
Church." MS. addition in G. M. Telemann's copy of Mattheson's Ehrenpforte, 
in the Royal Library at Berlin. In the Leipzig register the entry of Kuhnau's 
death styles him "Director Musices bey der Lobl. Universitaet und Cantor bey 
der Schulen zu St. Thomcz." 

77 As in his memorial as to " well appointed church music " of the year 
1730, although this almost exclusively concerns the St. Thomas' scholars. 

78 Heinrich Nickolaus Gerber always wrote in his copies of the French and 
English Suites "Joh. Seb. Bach. H. (ochfurstlich) A. (nhalt) C. (othenischer) 
Ca/>//meister, Dir. (ector) Ch. (ori) M. (usici) L . (ipsiensis) et (sometimes " auch ") 
Cant, (or) S. (ancti) T. (homa) S. (chola>) Lips, (iensis)." 

" Das jetzt lebende und florirende Leipziz, 1723, p. 78. 


part, deemed fitting, he had dipped more deeply into their 
money-bags than they approved. Bach's immediate superior 
in the church services was the Superintendent of the Diocese 
of Leipzig, at that time Dr. Salomo Deyling. He took 
pleasure and interest in the district under his official juris- 
diction, and enjoyed a well-deserved esteem far beyond its 
limits. He was a man of extensive learning, strong 
character, and undoubted administrative capacity. He was 
born, the son of poor parents, in 1677, at Weida in Voigtland, 
and by indefatigable energy had worked up to becoming a 
student at Wittenberg ; in 1703 he qualified in the philo- 
sophical faculty, and two years later became Archdeacon of 
Plauen ; by 1708 he was Superintendent at Pegau, and in 
1716 General Superintendent at Eisleben. Meanwhile he 
had obtained the degree of licentiate in theology, and in 
1710 had been made Dr. Theol. This was followed by his 
call to Leipzig as minister of the Church of St. Nicholas and 
Superintendent of the Diocese, in 1720. He entered on 
these offices in 1721, and at the same time was made 
Professor extraordinary of the University, which subsequently 
resulted in his being Professor in ordinary; 80 he was also 
Assessor to the Consistory. His abundant labours in all these 
relations ended only with his death, which took place in 
I 755- 81 The most interesting question to us, is what 
attitude he took up as regards church music. He had ample 
opportunity for expressing his views on the subject, for the 
number of his published writings is considerable. They 
treat of philosophy, philology, mathematics, and antiquities, 
but principally of theological matters, alike exegetical, dog- 
matic, historical, and practical. The greater part of his 
Latin dissertations is contained in his Observations Sacrce, 
which were published in three parts, each containing fifty 

80 "Professor extraordinary," is used to denote those who had no fixed post 
in the University ; in this case he became regular professor. 

81 Sicul. Leip. Jahr. Gesch., 1721, p. 227. Adelung Fortsetzung zu Jochers 
Gelehrten Lexicon, Leipzig, 1787, V. II., p. 684. A portrait in oil of Deyling 
hangs in the choir of St. Thomas' Church, and a copperplate from it is to be found 
in Geographischer Schau-platz Aller vier Theile der Welt, von Christian 
Ehrhardt Hoffmann, V. II. (Town Library, Leipzig.) 

Q 2 


essays, at Leipzig, 1708, 1711, and 1715 ; in these he displays 
great learning and a strictly conservative, high-Lutheran 

Of all the 150 dissertations, one only deals with things 
musical. It is entitled Hymni a Christianis decantandi 
(V. III., No. XLIV., p. 336 to 346). But even this is 
almost entirely of a theological and antiquarian character. 
What the Greeks understood by a hymn, how many kinds 
of song the Jews distinguished, on what occasions the 
Greeks used singing, how far the early Christians may 
have imitated them in this and how far not ; all this and 
much more is amply and learnedly discussed, with a final 
reference to two passages in the Epistles to the Ephesians 
and to the Colossians. It is not till the last paragraph that 
he mentions that among the heathen certain persons were 
appointed as superintendents to lead public singing on the 
occasions of great festivals and he closes the treatise with 
this practical application : 82 

" Therefore, since profane men, strangers to the true 
worship of God, used to institute societies of singers of hymns 
and paeans for the purpose of singing to the praise and glory 
of false gods publicly in temples and other places of resort, 
and even used to sing to their praise in their very feasts, 
how much more ought Christians to be ' singers of hymns 
and paeans ' to the true God ? How much more does it 
beseem them to celebrate God's goodness and glory in 
' psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,' both in their 
feasts and in their temples, both in public and private ? " 

This is all Deyling could find to say in his Observationes 
Sacra to indicate his attitude towards church music, but 
it is enough. The parallel drawn between the hymn and 
paean singers on one hand, and the choirs in protestant 
churches on the other, is an obvious one, and when he 

83 " Cum igitur profanus hominum coetus, et a vero Dei cultu peralienus, in 
commentitiorum numinum honorem, et ad laudes eorum decantandas, publica 
quondam "Yfiv^Swv et naiaviaruv in Templis, aliisque conventibus instituerint 
Collegia, ac inter ipsas epulas consueverint i<nvo\oytlv ; quanto magis Christianos 
decet esse Hymnologos et Paeanistas veri Dei ? Quanto hos magis decet 
4<a\/JoTc icai vpvoif, ical tfiSalf irvivfiariicats Dei beneficia et laudes in conviviis, 
Templis, publice privatimque celebrare ? " 


speaks of convivial singing he evidently has in his mind 
the prevailing custom of having the choir of boys to sing 
at festivities, particularly at wedding banquets. We must 
remember, too, that this was written at a time when the 
question of part-music being introduced into the church 
service was under eager dispute, and especially as to whether, 
and how far, it was suitable for independent choirs. Thus 
Deyling considered church music, as represented by Bach, 
to be desirable. From the meagreness of his treatment of the 
whole subject it may be doubted whether he took any 
intelligent or sympathetic interest in music. However, all 
that was needed was that he should give Bach full liberty 
to act. All that has been said as to a re-organisation of 
the services in which Bach and Deyling co-operated rests 
on unfounded assumptions and baseless opinions. 88 A con- 
fusion between the words of the church music and the 
hymns sung by the congregation could not occur if the 
Cantor did but understand his duty, since the congregational 
hymns to be sung on holy days were fixed once for all, and 
the choice of the hymns for ordinary Sundays was one of the 
traditional duties of the Cantor. Any lack of connection 
between the cantata and the Epistle and Gospel for the day 
was hardly possible either, because the texts to which the 
cantatas were composed for each Sunday and holy day were 
usually written to suit their ecclesiastical significance and 
the contents of the portions of Scripture appointed for the 
day. Any alteration in the musical arrangements of the 
form of worship would have been an infringement of Bach's 
official rights, since, on his induction, the Council had 
expressly enjoined him not to allow any innovations in 
the services; they were, and remained throughout Bach's 

88 Rochlitz, Sebastian Bach's Grosse Passionsmusik nach dem Evangelisten 
Johannes, Vol. IV., 3rd ed., Leipzig, 1868, p. 271. Part of it is printed as a 
preface to the B.-G., IV., p. 13 15. It will be seen from ch. IV. of this section 
that the picture given by Rochlitz of the services before and during Bach's time 
is in part perfectly inaccurate. Rochlitz says that at the beginning of each 
week Bach sent several, usually three, texts of cantatas suitable for the 
following Sunday to the Superintendent, who made a selection. I can find 
nothing to confirm this statement, but it is not impossible that Rochlitz, who 
himself was a foundation scholar at St. Thomas', followed a credible tradition. 


life, the same as in Kuhnau's time. They afforded abundant 
opportunity for the use of music ; indeed, Bach did not even 
usually avail himself of them to the full. Certainly he had 
to submit the text he chose for his composition to the 
censorship of the Superintendent. It can hardly be said 
that they co-operated in the matter ; it was rather a check 
on the composer's liberty, which he much resented, for Bach 
always evaded every kind of surveillance, and liked to feel 
himself perfectly independent in his own sphere of work. 

A circumstance which occurred at a later period, it is true, 
but which may find a fitting place here serves to prove this 
statement. On Good Friday, 1739, Bach had announced 
the programme of a " Passion Music," by the plan, then 
customary, of sending round printed copies of the text. The 
Council must needs once more assert its superiority at a 
wrong time ; one of their subordinates was commissioned 
to announce, verbally, to the Cantor that the Passion 
Music must be postponed till a regular permission had been 
granted by the superior authorities. Bach, however, was 
refractory. He had proceeded on this occasion just as he 
had done on all others, and, as regarded the text, there was 
nothing reprehensible in that, since the work had already 
been performed several times. And besides, he did not care 
whether the performance took place or not, for he had 
nothing but the trouble of it and no profits. He would 
explain to the " Herr Superintendent that the Council had 
forbidden it." The Council and Consistory were often at 
loggerheads, and the fray resulting from this must have been 
an additional incentive to Bach to act, as far as possible, on 
his own account. 84 

The congregational hymns were subject to the censorship 
of the church authorities, as well as the texts of the cantatas. 
A certain series of hymns was sanctioned once for all ; 
within these limits the Cantor was free to choose, but he 
might not go beyond them. It is possible that Bach 

84 As a parallel case we find that on April 4, 1722, Kuhnau had received a 
reproof from the Burgomasters, because he had asked permission of the 
Consistory and not of the Council with regard to a " Passion Music '' in St. 


may at some time have made the attempt, and that it 
was reported to the Consistory. On February 16, 1730, a 
warning reached the Superintendent that he should take 
heed lest hymns not hitherto in use should be sung without 
the concurrence of the authorities, as had recently been 
done. 85 When we see what a subtle and profound feeling 
Bach shows in the selection of those chorales, for instance, 
which are introduced as Madrigal texts into the Passion 
according to St. Matthew, it is quite credible that he should 
be very ready to avail himself of the Cantor's right to 
select the congregational hymns, in order to produce the 
greatest and most symbolical variety of effect in the 
different musical portions of the church services. And even 
if he had not been a determined man who would not yield 
an inch in the department which belonged to him, it would 
still be intelligible that he should allow no one to interfere 
in the arrangement of the hymns. However, an attempt 
to do so was made ere long. Magister Gaudlitz, the sub-dean 
of St. Nicholas, began in 1727 to select the hymns for the 
Vesper sermons given by him at first with the knowledge 
of the Superintendent and the Cantor's consent. After he 
had done this about a year, our master would no longer 
submit to his interference; he chose to ignore the sub-deacon's 
decision, and made the choir sing the hymns he himself 
selected. Gaudlitz reported him to the Consistory, who, 
somewhat over-hastily, sent a notice to the Cantor, through 
the Superintendent, to the effect that for the future he was 
to have the hymns sung which the preacher had selected. 
Bach now thought it time to appeal to the Council, and 

he wrote as follows : 



Will your Magnifici, well-born and noble lordships condescend to 
remember how I was admonished by your Magnifici, well-born and 
noble lordships on the occasion of my being called to the Cantorate 
of the School of St. Thomas in this place, of which I was always to 

86 I have not been able to discover the document which is given by Bitter, 
II,, p. 86, and must therefore refer to him. 


perform the traditional usages in the public divine service, duly in 
all respects, and not to introduce any innovations; and how, under 
the same contract, you were pleased to assure me of your high 
protection? Among these usages and customs was also the right of 
ordering the hymns before and after the sermons, which right was left 
entirely to me and to my predecessors in the Cantorate, provided that 
the hymns chosen be in conformity with the gospels and the use of the 
Dresden hymn-book regulated by these, and as may seem suitable 
according to time and circumstances ; and certainly, as the worthy 
Ministerium can well attest, no contradiction to this has ever arisen. 88 
But, to the contrary of this, the Sub-diaconus of St. Nicholas Church, 
Herr Magister Gottlieb Gaudlitz, has attempted to introduce an 
innovation, and instead of the hymns hitherto ordered in accordance 
with church customs, has ordered other hymns; and when I scrupled 
to yield to this because of serious consequences which might result, 
he brought an accusation against me before the worshipful Consistorium 
and obtained an injunction against me, by the contents of which I, 
for the future, am to let those hymns be sung which shall be com- 
manded by the preachers. But it seemed to me not proper, without 
the knowledge of your Magnifici, well-born, and noble lordships, 
the patrons of the churches in this place, to carry this into effect ; and 
all the less so because hitherto the arrangement of the hymns by the 
Cantor had for so long a time remained undisturbed, the afore-mentioned 
Herr Magister Gaudlitz having himself allowed in the document 
presented to the most worshipful Consistorium, of which a copy 
is subjoined, that when once or twice he had been allowed to do it, 
my consent as Cantor had been required. In addition to which, when 
the hymns which had to be sung as part of the church music were of 
inordinate length, the service would be prolonged, and thus all kinds 
of irregularities would have to be provided for, putting aside the fact 
that not one of the officiating clergy, with the exception of Herr 
Magister Gaudlitz, as Sub-diaconus, seeks to introduce this innovation. 
Thus, I esteem it necessary most submissively to bring before your 
Magnifici, well-born, and noble lordships the humble prayer that you 
will most graciously protect me in the use and ordering of these 
hymns, as has hitherto been usual. And with life-long devotion, 
I remain, 

Your Magnifici, well-born, and noble lordships' 

Most obedient, 
Leipzig, September 20, 1728. 

86 " As I appoint the hymns for all three churches " : Kuhnau, Memorial of 
December 4, 1704, given in an abridged form in App. B., IV., A. 

87 Council deeds " Schuel zu St. Thomas. Vol. IV., Stift, VIII., B., 2." 
Fol. 410. Only the signature of Bach's memorial is autograph. 


Thus the Council once more found itself in conflict with 
the Consistory, but how the affair terminated among them is 
not known. 

Under the circumstances, all that Bach proposed and 
hoped to do for the improvement of the music in the princi- 
pal churches in the direction which he had always pursued 
in art, involved nothing less than the training of singers and 
players alike to a higher pitch of executive power, and the 
education of their feeling for art by keeping them engaged on 
fine and important works. And indeed this was inevitably 
the case, since he himself composed for them as much as 
possible; it was quite in accordance with his own wish, and, 
as we shall see, he at once began to develop this side of his 
genius, and during a long series of years was incessantly 
productive. With regard to the improvement and extension 
of his choir, he had made a great step quite at the begin- 
ning of his official life by establishing a connection with 
the students. He knew very well that without them little 
could be done, still he was wholly dependent on their free- 
will for whatever support they contributed to his Sunday 
performances ; the foundation scholars, who were bound to 
sing, still formed the main body of the choir. They were not 
required to sing only; since by his deed of installation Bach 
was pledged to instruct them diligently, not only in vocal 
but also in instrumental music. As things then stood this 
was highly necessary, for the performance of the instrumental 
accompaniments by the corps of musicians kept up by the 
Town Council was neither efficient nor strong enough by itself 
to fulfil his requirements. It consisted of only seven mem- 
bers four " Stadtpfeiffer," and three "Kunstgeiger," who, 
with a single exception, belonged to the class of " doubtful 
characters." ^ There was indeed no lack of instrumentalists, 
and of good ones, in Leipzig, 89 but their assistance would 

88 During the first twelve years of Bach's official life their names were 
Gottfried Reiche, Christian Rother, Joh. Cornelius Gentzmar, Joh. Caspar 
Gleditsch, " Stadtpfeiffer." The " Kunstgeiger " were Heinrich Christian 
Bezer, Christian Ernst Meyer, Joh. Gottfried Kornagel. Accounts of the 
churches in the Archives of the Foundation Library, Leipzig. 

89 " Dunkeln Ehrenmdnner." A party of five musicians performed, under 
Schott, in the New Church. See the accounts from 1725 to 1729. 


cost money, while the scholars had to fiddle for nothing. 
We must picture to ourselves Bach's plan of instruction in 
clavier, violin, and organ-playing, as consisting very much in 
attaching to himself any scholar he found qualified, and 
endeavouring to urge him forward by his example and by 
opportune instruction. Many young men, whose names we 
shall meet with again, sought instruction at the Thomas- 
schule, less in general knowledge than in music ; and 
these became Bach's pupils in the strictest sense of the word, 
both in playing and in composition, and quitted the school, 
not as good general scholars, but as accomplished artists. 

However, the singing choir was the first musical object 
which the scholars had to keep in view. What kind of 
training it was that Bach put them through to this end 
is a very interesting question, but one not easy to answer. 
A number of testimonials in Bach's own hand have come 
down to us reports written after the examinations of the 
singers. They refer for the most part to such youths as 
had applied for admission to the foundation of the Thomas- 
schule. In the summer of 1729 a certain Gottlieb Michael 
Wunzer was candidate for a scholarship. Ernesti, the 
Rector, gave him a testimonial for Latin, and under this 
Bach wrote : 

The above-named Wunzer has a rather weak voice, and still but a 
poor method, still he may if he is diligent in private practice be 
available in time. 


Leipzig, Jun 3, 1729. Cantor. 90 

On another occasion he writes : 

This present Erdmann Gottwald Pezold of Auerbach, atatis 14, has a 
fine voice and tolerable proficiency. Witness my own hand, 91 


90 Obig benandter Wunzer hat eine etwas schwache Stimme und noch 
Wenige profectus dorffte aber wohl (so ein firivat exercitium fleissig getrieben 
wiirde) mit der zeit zu gebrauchen seyn. 

91 Vorzeiger dieses Erdmann Gottwald Pezold von Auerbach, atatis 14 Jahr, 
hat eine feine Stimme und ziemliche Profectus. So hiermit eigenhandig 
at test ire t wird 




And again : 

This present Johann Christoph Schmied of Bendeleben, in Thuringia, 
(Stalls 19, has a fine tenor voice and reads well at sight. 92 


Or : Director Musices. 

Carolus Heinrich Scharff, atatis 14, has a tolerable alto voice and a 
moderate proficiency in music. 93 J. S. BACH. 


A number of similar testimonials will presently be given 
on another occasion, since they do not contribute any new 
information as to the present question. Here, however, I 
may adduce another piece of evidence of a later date, though, 
it is true, it does not deal with the entrance of any member of 
the Thomasschule. In 1740 a new office of Collaborator in 
the Thomasschule was to be instituted. Since the new 
master was to be charged with the duty of grounding the 
boys in the elements of music, the candidates were sent to 
Bach to be examined. He reported the result of this exami- 
nation in these words : 

By command of their Excellencies the Vice-Chancellors, the three 
competing persons have been with me and I found them as follows : 

(I.) Herr Magister Rbder renounced the examination, having altered 
his determination and taken the place of Steward in a noble family in 

(II.) Herr Magister Irmler has a fine method of singing, but he is 
somewhat wanting in accuracy of ear. 

(III.) Herr Wildenhayn plays a little on the clavier, but in singing he 
is not skilled, by his own confession. 

LEIPZIG, Jan. 18, 1740. JOH: SEE: BACH." 

92 Vorzeiger Dieses Johann Christoph Schmied von Bendeleben aus Thurin- 
gen, atatis 19 Jahr, hat eine feine Tenor Stimme und singt vom Blat fertig. 

93 Carolus Henrich Scharff, cetatis 14 Jahr, hat eine ziemliche Alt Stimme, 
und mittelmassige Profectus in Musicis. 

94 Irmler got the place. 

Auf Ihro Excellence des Herrn Vice-Cancellarii hohe Ordre sind die drey 
competenten bey mir gewesen, und habe Sie folgender massen befunden : 

(I.) Der Herr M. Roder hat die probe depreciret, weiln er seine resolution 
geandert und eine Hoffmeister Stelle bey einer Adelichen Familie in Merseburg 

(II.) Der Herr M. Irmler hat eine gar feine Singart ; nur fehlet es ihm in 
etwas amjudicio aurium. 

(III.) Der Herr Wildenhayn spielet etwas auf dem Clavier, aber zum Singen 
ist er eigenem Gestandniss nach, nicht geschickt. 

LEIPZIG, 18 yannar. 1740. JOH: SEE: BACH. 


Brief and general as these documents are, we learn from 
them to what aspect of vocal art Bach principally directed 
his attention. The word profectus, which was much used at 
that time in the sense of proficiency or productive power, 
may certainly include everything that can be required of a 
singer ; but it here bears a more limited meaning, if we re- 
member that the first consideration was a serviceable choir 
singer, and then weigh what is said of one and another of the 
candidates. Bach required of his singers, in the first place, 
accuracy of pitch and time, a pure intonation, fertility of 
resource, and also, if possible, a pleasing quality of voice 
" er hat eine feine Stimme." In all this it is the musician 
that speaks, and not the singing master ; there is no allusion 
even to the cultivation, utterance, equality of register, or 
any other vocal technicality. It would be absurd to suppose 
that Bach was insufficiently acquainted with all these 
matters ; besides, it must be remembered that his second 
wife was a well-trained and accomplished singer. It by no 
means follows from his silence that he left them out of con- 
sideration in the education of his singers, but we may 
venture to assert that he thought it no part of his task to 
make accomplished vocalists of the scholars who could sing 
in at all the same way as he trained Krebs, Ernst Bach, his 
own sons, and others, to be distinguished players and com- 
posers. There was not time for this in seven hours of 
singing a week, especially when forty pupils took part in 
them, as was the case when the choirs were complete. He 
would have had to take the best of them under his private 
tuition, and before he could do this he must have acquired 
a more thorough knowledge of the art of singing than he 
actually possessed, since we know nothing of his having 
had any practical experience of it since the days of his 

Bach was, before and above everything, a composer for 
the organ, as the whole course of his development shows us ; 
all his writing for other instruments has something about it 
that suggests the organ, and his vocal compositions might 
be designated as the last and utmost embodiment of the 
true Bach organ style. Nor does the admission of this 


view necessarily imply any reproach ; not even if we insist 
on regarding the subject exclusively from the most purely 
musical and artistic point of view. As long as instrumental 
music has existed it has been on terms of mutual inter- 
change with vocal music, and they have borrowed reciprocally. 
But to Bach, as we have already seen, the organ was imbued 
with a peculiar, more essentially ideal, character, which gives 
a higher justification to much that might otherwise seem 
faulty in style in his vocal music. At any rate, he required 
of the singers something different in itself, as adapted to the 
views he held of church music, from what was expected by 
the musical world he lived in. He required less, in so far 
that he attached less importance to all that characterises 
skilled singing as such, all that must be made as prominent 
as possible where the human voice is the principal element 
in the piece ; but, on the other hand, he required more, inas- 
much as in his compositions he often put before the singers 
technical difficulties in the music which could not have been 
suggested by an imagination working with the single idea of 
writing for the voice. It is self-evident that in such music 
as this the distinction between the demands on a chorus 
singer and soloist is far less than in Handel's oratorios. A 
scholar who was thoroughly trained in singing Bach's choral 
music might soon be qualified to perform an aria, since its 
effect would depend far less on him alone than is the case 
with the singer of an opera or oratorio air. Certainly the 
feeling of Bach's arias could not have found that flow of 
passionate utterance when sung by youths and boys which 
they are capable of when the finest singers regard their due 
rendering as one of their noblest tasks. But we may rest 
convinced that Bach himself would not have endured a mere 
mechanical reading of them. Johann Friedrich Agricola, 
Bach's pupil from 1738 to I74i, 95 says it is indispensable 
that a singer should learn elocution, or at least acquire, by 
the verbal instructions of a good speaker or by accurate 
observation of his mode of delivery, what sort of sound of 
the voice is requisite for the due expression of certain 

96 Gerber, L. I., col. 17. Burney's Diary. Rolle, Neue Wahrnehmngen, &g, 
Berlin, 1784, p. 93. 


emotions or figures of speech, and that he should also 
diligently practise himself in reading or declaiming, accord- 
ing to these rules, emotional passages from the works of good 
orators and poets. 96 And we know that Bach himself was 
fond of illustrating the proper method of musical performance 
by the rules of rhetoric. " He so perfectly understood the 
resemblance which the performance of a musical piece has 
in common with rhetorical art that he was listened to with 
the utmost satisfaction and pleasure when he discoursed of 
the similarity and agreement between them ; but we also 
wonder at the skilful use he made of this in his works." So 
writes his friend Magister Birnbaum. 97 

Though these were the principles which Bach regarded as 
the foundation of his vocal training, it by no means follows 
that he should have been successful in practically carrying 
them out. For this, two things were necessary : a real talent 
for teaching youth on his part, and musical talent on that of 
his pupils. It seems to be a contradiction to what was said 
in a former chapter, 98 as to Bach's great gift for teaching, 
when the younger Ernesti (who was Rector of the Thomas- 
schule after 1734) states that he could maintain no discipline 
among the choir boys, and that after Bach's death it was 
stated in the Council that " Herr Bach was indeed great as 
a musician, but not as a schoolmaster." But it is one thing 
to guide one single teachable and reverently disposed pupil, 
and quite another to quell an unintelligent and unruly mob 
of boys. Bach was peculiarly fitted for the former task by his 
gifted, sympathetic, and essentially wise and humane nature; 
but in the latter case his artist's irritability hindered him, 
and this was all the boys could see, who were incapable of 
understanding his greatness. In this respect the man in 
Leipzig in no whit differed from the youth at Arnstadt ; and 
we shall presently see that the musical qualifications of the 
scholars received but a meagre share of his attention. Bach 
frequently visited Dresden from Leipzig, heard there the 

96 Tosi, Anleitung zur Singkunst. Mil Erlauterungen und Zusatzen von 
Job. Friedrich Agricola. Berlin, 1757, p. 139. 

97 See Scheibe, Critischer Musikus. Leipzig, 1475, p. 997. Birnbaum's 
statements refer to the year 1739. See ante, p. 56. * Ante, p. 47. 


beautiful performances of the Italian singers, and the admir- 
able playing of the Court band, and was himself a much 
admired personage both among his fellow artists and in court 
circles. It was but human nature that under these circum- 
stances he should often fulfil his proper duties with his founda- 
tion boys and town musicians in a grudging spirit ; and work 
done without any heart in it is but rarely successful. 

The fact thus indicated did not become publicly evident, 
however, till after the lapse of a few years. At first the charm 
of novelty, the natural desire to justify the expectations formed 
of him by those who were most intimately concerned, and, 
above all, the delight of being able at last to perform and com- 
pose church music to his heart's content, would easily have 
outweighed many disagreeables and disadvantages ; at any 
rate, we have no information which stands in the way of this 
assumption. The first traces of a misunderstanding became 
visible in 1729. At Easter in that year nine foundation boys 
had finished their studies and quitted the school. They had 
been useful musicians and among them indeed there was one 
of distinguished talent, Wilhelm Friedemann, Bach's eldest 
son. On this occasion it came to light that the Council, who 
were still as negligent in all that concerned the school choir 
as they had been in Kuhnau's time, had for a long time 
ceased to pay the requisite attention to the question whether 
the new foundation scholars who were admitted had any 
musical gifts. The choir in consequence had fallen into such 
a wretched condition that some very decisive steps had to be 
taken, if the music were to be carried on at all in the way 
that had become traditional. Nor was it only Bach who 
represented in the strongest terms that the vacant places 
must be filled up by boys of musical qualifications ; even the 
old Rector Ernesti requested it, and Dr. Stiglitz, the In- 
spector of schools, who had to transmit their demands to the 
Council, supported them by a petition, couched in the most 
emphatic terms, dated May 18. He also forwarded, as sup- 
plementary, a report drawn up and written by Bach as to the 
new candidates and their capabilities, as well as on the indis- 
pensable constituents of the different church choirs. This 
is as follows : 


The boys, who under the present vacancies in the school of St. 
Thomas, desire to be received into it as Alumni are the following: 

I. Such as have musical qualifications, and, firstly, trebles. 

1. Christoph Friedrich Meissner, of Weissenfels, cetatis 13, has a 

good voice and a fine method. 

2. Johann Tobias Krebs, of Buttstadt, cetatis 13, has a good strong 

voice and a fine method. 

3. Samuel Kittler, of Bellgern, cetatis 13, has a tolerably strong 

voice and a very pretty method. 

4. Johann Heinrich Hillmeyer, of Gehrings Walde, cetatis 13, has 

a strong voice and a fine method. 

5. Johann August Landvoigt, of Gaschwitz, cetatis 13, has a 

passable voice ; his method is tolerable. 

6. Johann Andreas Kopping, of Grossboden, cetatis 14 ; his voice 

is tolerably strong and his method moderate. 

7. Johann Gottlob Krause, of Grossdeuben, cetatis 14 ; has rather 

a weak voice and very mediocre method. 

8. Johann Georg Leg, of Leipzig, cetatis 13; his voice is rather 

weak and method indifferent. 
g. Johann Gottfried Neucke, of Grima, cetatis 14, has a strong 

voice and tolerably fine method. 

10. Gottfried Christoph Hoffmann, of Nebra, cetatis 16, has a fairly 
good alto voice, but his method is rather faulty. 

II. Those who did not offer themselves as musicians: 

1. Johann Tobias Dieze. 

2. Gottlob Michael Wintzer." 

3. Johann David Bauer. 

4. The son of Johanna Margaretha Pfeil. 

5. Gottlob Ernst Hausius. 

6. Friedrich Wilhelm, the son of Wilhelm Ludwig. 

7. Johann Gottlieb Zeymer. 

8. Johann Gottfried Berger. 

9. Johann Gottfried Eschner. 

10. Salomon Gottfried Greiilich. 

11. Michael Heinrich Kittler, of Prettin. 

Direct : Musices, 

u. Cantor at S. Thomae. 

Then, as supplementary to the former list, we have : 
Gottwald Pezold, of Aurich, cetatis 14, has a fine voice and 
tolerable method. 100 

99 Evidently the same who, on the 3rd of June, obtained a somewhat 
warmer testimonial. 

100 NO doubt the same to whom Bach had already given a separate 



Johann Chnstoph Schmid, of Bendeleben, eztatis 19, has a 
tolerably strong tenor voice and sings very prettily. 

And, finally, we have the following supplement : 

In the Church of 
St. Nikolaus, there 
are belonging to the 
first choir : 

3 Trebles. 

3 Alti. 

3 Tenors. 

3 Basses. 

In the 

New Church, 
to the third choir: 
3 Trebles. 
3 Alti. 
3 Tenors. 
3 Basses. 


St. Thomas, 
to the second choir 
3 Trebles. 
3 Alti. 
3 Tenors. 
3 Basses. 
To the fourth choir: 
2 Soprani. 
2 Alti. 
2 Tenors. 
2 Basses. 
And this last choir must serve the Church of St. Peter as well. 

Nevertheless, this representation was only half attended 
to by the Council. On May 24, it granted, it is true, five 
scholarships to the musical boys named as Meissner, Krebs, 
Kittler, Hillmeyer, and Neucke ; on the other hand three 
were given to those who " did not offer themselves as 
musicians " (Dieze, Zeymer, and Berger), and the last 
scholarship was given to a candidate named Feller, who 
is not mentioned by Bach, and who, therefore, had evidently 
not even come before him. Soon after this there must 
again have been a vacancy, for on June 3 Wintzer was 
admitted. Pezold and Schmid, who had both been recom- 
mended by Bach, were passed over; Krause, who is probably 
the lad named by Bach as No. 7 of list i, was not admitted 
till October of the following year. 

In the Holy week of 1729, Bach had for the first time 
conducted a performance of his Passion Music according 
to St. Matthew. From this we see that this work had made 
so little impression on the gentlemen of the Town Council 
of Leipzig, that they did not even accede to the request of 
the composer so far as to choose the nine musical scholars 
out of the candidates for the scholarships. After so signal 
a proof of their ignorance of his value, it seems almost surpris- 
ing that Bach should not at once have sought to resign his 
office ; and it certainly is not strange that for a time he was 

II. R 


thoroughly disgusted with it. It happened just at the 
same time that he undertook the direction of the Musical 
Union formed by Telemann, and might there hope to find 
rather more love of music and intelligent sympathy. It 
may be that this prospect may have inspired him with 
courage for the future. But so far as his functions as 
Cantor were concerned, the Musical Union was a source 
of fresh vexation. Kuhnau had, before this, vainly striven 
to obtain that a sufficient stipend might be allotted to 
prove an inducement to the students to co-operate regularly 
and in considerable numbers with the choir of St. Thomas. 
As we shall see from a memorial drawn up by Bach (given 
below), the only result up to this time had been that a few 
donations, and those very insufficient, had been made to 
the students who had assisted; and in Bach's time these 
had become more and more meagre, till at length they 
entirely ceased. The Council no doubt thought them now 
unnecessary, since from Bach's position at the head of the 
Union the students would join the choir without payment. 
Their conduct really bears the aspect of dishonesty, and yet 
it was simply the result of mental narrowness ; for, when 
the church music became obviously worse, they were very 
indignant with the Cantor. 

On October 16, 1729, the Rector, Joh. Heinrich Ernesti, 
died; 101 the place remained vacant for many months, and 
then, on June 8, 1730, the elders (Vdter fathers) of the town 
agreed in inviting Johann Matthias Gesner to fill it, since 
the choice of a native of the town would have " caused 
jealousy." One member of the Council expressed a wish 
that they might " fare better in this appointment than in 
that of the Cantor." The neglect of his duties which the 
Council thought it had observed of late had already given 
occasion to his receiving various warnings and admonitions, 
but the gentlemen must have discovered to their amazement 
that they did not produce the expected effect. The offended 
and defiant artist roundly refused to give any explanation, 
and this must have happened several times, for one of 

Neue Zeitungen von Gelehrten Sachen. Leipzig, 1729, p. 791. 


the Council declared point blank that the Cantor was 
" incorrigible." This occurred at a meeting of the Council 
on August 2, 1730, on the discussion of a question as to the 
restoration of the school buildings. As has been said, Bach, 
at his installation, had received permission to employ a 
substitute, as far as might be necessary, in giving general 
instruction. This substitute had hitherto been found in the 
person of the Tertius, afterwards Conrector, Magister Pezold, 
but he had failed to give satisfaction in this, and indeed in 
his work generally, and a proposal was therefore made to 
employ as Bach's substitute, instead of Pezold, a younger 
master, Magister Abraham Kriigel. It would have been the 
most obvious course to restore to Bach the duty of giving 
the lessons ; but the strong feeling against him now came 
to light. He had not conducted himself as he should for 
instance, he had sent a member of the choir into the country 
without any previous intimation to the municipal authorities; 
he had gone on a journey himself without asking leave ; he 
did nothing; he did not attend to the singing classes, not to 
mention other accusations. The meeting proposed to put 
him down to one of the lowest classes, where he could either 
give the elementary instruction himself or, as they would 
not withdraw the permission originally given, put a deputy 
to do so for him. But this motion was not passed, and it 
was resolved instead " to sequestrate the Cantor's income," 
besides addressing to him an admonition and appealing to his 
conscience. The accusation that the Cantor "did nothing" 
is really startling when we learn that, within the few weeks 
previous, on the occasion of the Jubilee of the Augsburg 
Confession, the 25th, 26th, and 27th of June, Bach had pro- 
duced and conducted three grand cantatas; that, besides 
such a monumental work as the Passion according to St. 
Matthew, during the seven years that he had been Cantor 
he had composed a series of cantatas which, to any other 
musician, would have represented the labours of half a life- 
time. But this sort of work counted for nothing with the 
Council ; what they required was that the Cantor should 
hold his classes regularly, and should not neglect his 
duties as an instructor in so independent a fashion. 

R 3 


There can be no doubt that Bach had taken things easily 
as regarded the singing lessons, and it was a neglect of duty 
which we shall not attempt to screen or defend ; still, there 
were so many and such important circumstances to excuse 
it that they might almost constitute a justification. It has 
been already said that the afternoon practising had always 
been left entirely to the management of the Prefect since 
the time of Tobias Michael. Thus, when Bach in the same 
way only gave one singing lesson in the morning of Monday, 
Tuesday, and Wednesday and it would seem that he was 
certainly accustomed to do so much as this he was only 
following the established custom. 102 Up to this time hardly 
any one had found anything to say against this ; nay, 
Michael's colleagues had even opined that the Cantor's 
presence at the afternoon singing was quite unnecessary. 
Even if we go farther, and suppose that Bach had been 
irregular in giving the three morning lessons, we must 
remember above all the inefficient state of the choir, and 
that the Council did not even think it necessary to do what 
lay in their power to improve it and meet the difficulty 
which Bach experienced in dealing in the right way with 
this half-wild troop of boys. Nor must we forget that the 
state of affairs in the Thomasschule was constantly most 
unsatisfactory, and that the picture given of it above con- 
tinued to be true during the first seven years of Bach's 
official life. The careful re-organisation of the institution 
had been a merely superficial labour; regulations can 'have 
no value if no one is concerned to carry them out, and 
this was the case here. Bach must soon have perceived 
that in this state of entire demoralisation, this war of 
each against all carried on by the body of teachers, and 

102 From an act of the Council referring to the school. At the end of this 
document we find certain " remarks" as to the regulations of the school from 
the pen of the younger Ernesti, in which he speaks of a proportionally small 
preparation for the processional singing at the three seasons being limited to 
certain afternoons. Finally he says, " It must be considered whether these 
practisings could not be transferred to the hours after the lesson (Lection), 
from three till six o'clock. In this way the singing lesson which the Cantor 
has to give from twelve till one would not be lost, but, on the contrary, 
more strictly kept up, for at present he gives only one hour's lesson, whereas 
he ought to give two, and thus the boys do not have enough practice in 
music." This was written about 1736. 


the confusion which resulted from the constant disputes 
as to their authority between the Council and the Con- 
sistory in which he was especially involved the only 
safe course was to look neither to the right hand nor 
to the left, but to act as independently as possible. To this 
course his natural disposition inclined him, and he no doubt 
indulged it all the more since, in point of fact, the post of 
school Cantor was a singularly independent position. The 
Rector was little accustomed to trouble himself about the 
singing lessons, of which Bach's duties as a teacher princi- 
pally consisted. Since it was one of the chief tasks of the 
scholars to perform the church services,- the Cantor was, 
in their eyes, almost as important a personage; as the Rector 
himself. In the time of the elder Ernesti, candidates offered 
themselves to Bach in the first instance quite as often as to 
the Rector himself; that is to say, they applied to him in 
person and were examined in music, and he then procured 
their admission. 108 No doubt that pleased the old Rector 
best which gave him the least possible trouble, and it is 
plain that Bach always remained on excellent terms with 
him, since he asked his wife and daughter to stand sponsors 
to the two children born to him in 1724 and 1728. Such a 
position, which really forced him into independence, might 
easily lead to his occasionally kicking at those limitations 
which necessarily existed, particularly when they were fixed 
by an authority before which Bach, as an artist, could not 
bow, however great his respect for it in other ways. Added 
to all this, as a factor of special significance, we must count 
the deep mortification which must have filled the master's 
mind when he found the best he could do so absolutely 
unintelligible to his superiors in office. 

In short, he was to be called to order. Documents exist 
which show that the mere order to withhold his emoluments 
was not the end of the matter. His actual salary and the 
fees could hardly be interfered with ; but there were endow- 
ments, holiday money, and other revenues to be distributed, 

108 On May 18, 1729, Dr. Stiglitz writes to the Council that the new 
applicants for the scholarships had either addressed themselves in writin^, 
and with the recommendation of some witness, to the Rector or Conrector, or 
else had been introduced merely by the nomination of " Cantor Bach." 


and these afforded opportunities for aggrieving those 
were out of favour. The fees that had accrued to the 
Rector during the time that elapsed between Ernesti's 
death and Gesner's appointment were to be divided into 
three equal parts by order of the Council for the widow, 
the Conrector, and the Tertius, since the two last had to fill 
the place of the Rector in the school. As against this, 
Dr. Stiglitz, the Superintendent of the school, represented 
in a statement made September 23, 1730, that the Conrector 
had had much more trouble than the Tertius, since he had had 
to take the Rector's place in other matters besides the lessons, 
and that the Cantor had also had to take his turn in the 
duties every three weeks instead of every four. That, 
therefore, it was fit and proper that more should be given 
to the Conrector than to the Tertius, and that something 
should also be allotted to the Cantor. The sum in question 
amounted to 271 thlrs. 7 ggr. 3 pf., and the Council decided 
as follows on November 6, 1730 : the widow was to have 
forty-one thlrs., the Conrector 130 thlrs. 7 ggr. 3 pf., and 
the Tertius 100 thlrs. ; Bach getting nothing. 

A similar case had already occurred during the course of 
the year, before the noble determination to curtail the 
Cantor's finances had been formally recorded, though an ill 
feeling already prevailed against him in the Council. A 
certain citizen, named Philippi, had bequeathed to the 
Thomasschule a sum of money of which the interest, 
amounting to twenty thlrs. yearly, was to be subdivided 
in such wise that twelve thlrs. were given to twelve poor 
scholars, one thlr. each to the Rector, Conrector, Tertius, 
and first bachelor, sixteen ggr. to each of the collaborators, 
and two thlrs. to the scholar who made the memorial speech 
of the year. Under this distribution there was a residue of 
sixteen ggr., and the question arose as to whether it should 
not be given to the Cantor or to the other bachelor, neither 
of whom were mentioned. The Council decided, December 3, 
1729, in favour of the other bachelor. Bach was the only 
member of the college sent empty away. 

When, twenty-four years previously, Bach had had to 
answer before the Consistory of Arnstadt for a dereliction 


of duty, similar to that he was now accused of, he avoided 
any farther verbal discussion by promising to clear himself 
in writing. 104 He now at first would not be drawn into any 
discussion whatever with the Leipzig Council, but he subse- 
quently was compelled to change his views, and he drew up a 
memorial, which we may regard partly as a formal declaration 
in writing and farther development of what he had said by word 
of mouth in the previous year to the school Superintendent, and 
partly as an outline of that officer's report to the Council : 

A short, but indispensable sketch of what constitutes well-appointed 
church music, with a few impartial reflections on its present state of decay. 

For well-appointed church music, vocalists and instrumentalists are re- 
quisite. In this town the vocalists consist of the foundation scholars of St. 
Thomas, and these are of four classes : trebles, altos, tenors, and basses. 

If the choir are to perform church pieces properly and as is fitting, 
the vocalists must again be divided into two classes : concertists and 
ripienists (soloists and choristers). The concertists are usually four, 
but sometimes five, six, seven, up to eight, according to the require- 
ments of the case and if the music is per choros. 

The ripienists must be at least eight, two to each part. 

The instrumentalists are of various sorts as violinists, oboeists, 
flautists, trumpeters, and drummers. N.B. Among the violinists are 
reckoned those who play the viola, violoncello, and violin. 

The number of the foundation scholars of St. Thomas is fifty-five. 
These fifty-five are divided into four choirs, for the four churches in 
which they partly perform music (musiciren), 105 partly sing motetts, 
and partly chorales. In three of the churches, i.e. St. Thomas, St. 
Nicholas, and the New Church all the scholars must understand 
music, and the residue go to St. Peter's ; those, that is to say, who do 
not understand music, but can only sing a chorale at need. 

To each of those musical choirs there must belong, at least, three 
trebles, three alti, three tenors, and as many basses, so that if one is 
unable to sing which often happens, and particularly at this time of 
year, as can be proved by the recipes sent from the school of medicine 
to the dispensary a motett may be sung with, at least, two voices to 
each part. 106 (N.B. How much better it would be if the Coetus were 

M* See Vol. I., p. 326. 

106 The word " Musiciren " in the common parlance of Bach's time, when 
applied to church music, never meant anything but the performance of part 
music with obbligato instrumental accompaniments. 

108 The Scholars were very fond of declaring they were ill, often for a month, 
or even a quarter, or a half-year ; they threw the medicine out of the window 
and revelled in the strengthening food allowed in case of sickness. Niclas, 
in Eyring's Biographia Academica Gottingensis, Vol. III., p. 52. 


so arranged that four singers could be available for each part, each 
choir thus consisting of sixteen persons.) 

From this it appears that the number of those who must understand 
music is thirty-five persons. 
The instrumental music consists of the following parts : 

Two or even three Violino i. 

Two or three Violino 2 do . 

Two Viola i. 

Two Viola 2 do . 

Two Violoncello. 

One Double bass. 

Two or three, according to need ... Oboes. 

One or two Bassoons. 

Three Trumpets. 

One Drum. 

In all eighteen persons, at least, for the instruments. N.B. Added 
to this since church music is also written for flutes (i.e. they are either 
d, bee or Traversieri, held sideways), at least two persons are needed for 
that ; altogether, then, twenty instrumentalists. The number of persons 
appointed for church music is eight, four town pipers, three town 
violinists, and one assistant. Diffidence, however, forbids my speaking 
truly of their quality and musical knowledge ; however, it ought to be 
considered that they are partly inefficient and partly not in such good 
practice as they should be. This is the list of them : 
Herr Reiche 107 plays first trumpet. 
Herr Genssmas ,, second trumpet. 
Vacant third trumpet. 


Herr Rother ,, first violin. 

Herr Beyer ,, second violin. 

Vacant viola. 


,, double bass. 

Herr Gleditsch ,, first oboe. 
Herr Kornagel ,, second oboe. 
Vacant ,, third oboe or taille. 

The assistant ,, the bassoon. 

107 Reiche was the only prominent musician of the whole of this worthy 
society, but when Bach wrote the above he was already 64 years old. A 
volume of 24 Quatricina for a cornet and 3 trumpets, published by him in 1696, 
exists in the Royal Library at Berlin. He died in 1734, unmarried, in the 
StadtpfeifFer Gasschen, whither he was carried home struck by apoplexy and lay 
there from Oct. 6 till he died (Register at Leipzig), and his funeral was followed 
by the larger half of the school. Gerber, Lexicon II., col. 258, says he was 
born at Weissenfels, Feb. 5, 1667 ; according to the register he was 68 years of 


Thus the most important instruments for supporting the parts, and 
the most indispensable in themselves, are wanting, to wit : 

Two first violins, Two violoncellos, 

Two second violins, One double bass, 

Two to play the viola, Two flutes. 

The deficiency here shown has hitherto had to be made good partly 
by the University students, but chiefly by the scholars. The students 
used to be very willing to do this, in the hope that in time they might 
derive some advantage from it, or perhaps receive a stipend or honorarium 
(as was formerly customary). But as this has not been the result, but, 
on the contrary, the little chance perquisites 108 which formerly fell to the 
chorus musicus have been in succession altogether withdrawn, the 
readiness of the students has likewise disappeared, for who will labour 
in vain, or give his service for nothing ? Moreover, it must be 
remembered that, as the second violins generally, and the viola, violon- 
cello, and double bass at all times, have been played by students (for 
lack of more efficient performers), it is easy to estimate what has thus 
been lost to the vocal choir ; this refers only to Sunday music. But if 
I come to speak of the music for festivals, when music must be provided 
for both the principal churches at the same time, the lack of necessary 
performers will at once be still more striking, since then I have to give 
up such scholars as can play this or that instrument, and I am obliged 
to do altogether without their assistance. 

Besides this it must not pass unnoticed that through the admissions 
hitherto granted to so many boys unskilled and ignorant in music 
the music has necessarily dwindled and fallen into decay. For it is 
easy to understand that a boy who knows nothing about music, who 
cannot even sing a second, can have no natural musical gifts, and 
consequently can never be of any use in music. And even those who 
bring some elementary knowledge to school with them, still are not of 
use so soon as is requisite and desirable. For time will not allow of 
their being duly trained for a year, or till they are skilled enough to be 
of use, but as soon as they are admitted they are placed in the choirs ; 
and they ought to be at least sure of time and tune to be of any use in 
the service. Now, as every year some of those who have done some- 
thing in music leave the school and their places are filled by others, 
many of whom are not immediately available, and most of them never 
of any use at all, it is easy to see that the choirs must by degreas 
diminish, and it is indeed notorious that the gentlemen, my predecessors 
Schelle and Kuhnau, were obliged to have recourse to the assistance of 

108 These perquisites, "Beneficia" must have been derived from small savings, 
the residue of endowments, &c. No special funds were applied to the purpose 
or they must have been mentioned in the school and church accounts. In 
Kuhnau's time 50 gulden a year 43 thlr. 18 ggr., were paid for church music out 
of the revenues of the church of St. Nicholas; Bach cannot refer to this sum 
for it was always regularly paid. 


the students when they desired to perform complete and well-sounding 
music ; which they were so far warranted in doing that several vocalists, 
a bass, a tenor, and an alto, as also instrumentalists, particularly two 
contra-bassists were favoured with salaries from a certain noble and 
learned councillor, and thereby were induced to strengthen the church 
music. Thus, since the present status musices is quite different to what 
it used to be formerly the art being much advanced and taste 
marvellously changed, so that the old fashioned kind of music no longer 
sounds well in our ears, and competent assistance is thus rendered all 
the more necessary such performers ought to be selected and appointed 
as may be able to satisfy the present musical taste and to undertake 
the new kinds of music, and at the same time be qualified to give 
satisfaction to the composer by their rendering of his work; and yet the 
few perquisites have been altogether withheld from the choir, though 
they ought to have been increased rather than diminished. And this, 
moreover, is passing strange, since it is expected of German musicians 
that they should be capable of performing extempore every kind of 
music, whether Italian or French, English or Polish, like some of those 
virtuosi before whom it may be placed and who have studied it for a long 
time beforehand, or even know it almost by heart, and who besides have 
such high salaries that their pains and diligence are well rewarded ; but 
all this is not duly considered, and these (before spoken of) are left to take 
care of themselves, so that in the need of working for their bread many 
can never think of attaining proficiency, much less of distinguishing 
themselves. To give one instance of this statement we need only go 
to Dresden and see how the musicians are paid there by the king ; it 
necessarily follows that all care as to maintenance is taken from these 
musicians; they are relieved of anxiety, and as, moreover, each person 
has to play but one instrument, it must be admirable and delightful 
to hear. 

The conclusion is easy to arrive at : that in ceasing to receive the per- 
quisites I am deprived of the power of getting the music into a better 
condition. Finally, I find myself compelled to depend on the number 
of the present scholars, to teach each one the methods of music, and 
then to leave it to more mature consideration whether under these 
circumstances the music can be carried on any longer, and whether 
its many and increasing deficiencies may be remedied. 

It is, however, desirable to divide the whole into three classes. The 
really efficient boys are the following : 

i. Pezold, Lange, Stoll; Prefecti Frick, Krause, Kittler, Pohlreiiter, 
Stein, Burckhard, Siegler, Nitzer, Reichhard, Krebs major and minor t 
Schoneman, Heder, and Dietel. 

The motett singers, who must farther improve themselves in order to 
be efficient in the course of time for part-singing, I09 are the following : 

109 Bach uses the word part-singing (figural music) in a restricted sense, 
which does not include the motett. 


2. Janigke, Ludewig major and minor, Meissner, Neiicke major and 
minor, Hillmeyer, Steidel, Hesse, Haupt, Snppius, Segnitz, Thieme, 
Keller, Rbder, Ossan, Berger, Lbsch, Hauptmann, and Sachse. 

Those of the last class are not musicians at all, and are named : 

3. Bauer, Gross, Eberhard, Braune, Seyman, Tietze, 110 Hebenstreit, 
Wintzer, Osser, Leppert, Haussius, Feller, Crell, Zeymer, Guffer, 
Eichel, and Zwicker. 

Total : seventeen available, twenty not yet available, and seventeen 

Leipzig, August 23, 1730. JOH: SEB: BACH. 

Director Musices. 

Certainly this document is not couched in very dutiful, 
much less very submissive, language. We need only 
compare it with Kuhnau's memorial which contains repre- 
sentations to the same effect, to understand how new and 
strange such a mode of address must have seemed to the 
Town Council, and it may be easily supposed that Bach's 
demeanour was not likely to dispose them to take steps to 
remedy the abuses he had pointed out. They simply let the 
memorial fall through with a certain expression of opinion. 
After the sitting of August 2, the Burgomasters called Bach 
before them to communicate to him the admonition that has 
been mentioned, and at the same time asked him whether 
he would be disposed to give the general lessons again in 
the place of Magister Pezold. Whether this interview 
took place before or after August 25, the date of Bach's 
memorial, at any rate the subject of it also came under 
discussion. When, on August 25, Dr. Born again presided 
at a meeting of the Council to which he reported his con- 
versation with Bach, it is most probable that he already 
had Bach's document in his hands, or, at any rate, he 
knew perfectly well that it was on its way, and what its 
contents were. What he proposed, however, was only as 
follows : That the Cantor had shown very little inclination 
to resume the school work in question, and it was therefore 
advisable to entrust the teaching to Magister Krugel. The 
Council agreed unanimously and the whole affair was dropped. 

Nor was Bach's application reconsidered later, or at any 
rate not in a sense favourable to him. This is quite evident 

110 Identical, no doubt, with Joh. Tobias Dieze named above. 


from his letter to Erdmann ; and the account books of the 
Council place it beyond a doubt that, up to the year 1746, no 
real addition was made to the funds devoted to keeping up 
die music in the churches of St. Thomas and St. Nicholas. 
But if any one would fain try to infer from these unsatisfac- 
tory and discreditable proceedings that the town authorities 
felt a certain longing to make their mere material superiority 
felt by the genius that was striving to escape into light and 
air, that they intentionally oppressed him and so tried indi- 
rectly to hinder him in the full development of his artistic 
faculties, it would be altogether an error of judgment. The 
Council were for the time very wroth with Bach, and, in this 
frame of mind, allowed themselves to be carried away and to 
pass an odious measure carried out, however, for only a short 
time, and they kept the purse strings tight whenever they 
thought outlay unnecessary ; but they never deliberately 
hindered the progress of the music under Bach's direction. 
Indeed, when the authorities closed the year's accounts they 
could prove by figures that considerably more had been voted 
and paid for musical requirements in the last few years than 
in the previous years. A complete restoration of the great 
organ in St. Thomas', costing 390 thalers, had been effected 
in 1720 and 1721 ; in 1724 and 1725 a thorough renovation 
of the "very dilapidated and injured" organ of St. Nicholas 
was effected at a cost of 600 thalers. In 1725 forty thalers 
were again expended in repairing the organ of St. Thomas, 
and two years later fifteen thalers more, and in 1735, when 
Bach's relations with the Council were at the highest strain, a 
sum of fifty thalers was voted for making the Ruckpositiv 
of the same organ an independent and separable instru- 
ment. In 1729, two new and "fine" violins, a "similar" 
viola and a violoncello were bought for church use at a cost of 
thirty-six thalers, and in the same year Bach was enabled to 
purchase the Florilegium Portense by Bodenschatz, at the price 
of twelve thalers, 111 for the use of the St. Thomas scholars 

111 In 1736 another copy of this collection of motetts was acquired for the 
special use of the church of St. Nicholas; this cost ten thalers, and another in 
the following year for St. Thomas' at the price of eight thalers. It would thus 
leem that one copy was insufficient. 


in church music. This outlay to us seems but small, even at 
the higher value of money at that time. But it was not so 
when compared with the usual average of expenditure in 
matters musical, though, on the other hand, it was not 
large in proportion to what such a musician as Bach was 
justified in expecting. The fault of the Council lay in their 
ignorance of what a genius and power they possessed in 
him, and that double and treble the opportunities and 
materials they afforded would not have sufficed for his full 
and free development. 

After this last experiment it may well be supposed that 
Bach was deeply embittered against his superiors in authority, 
and he seriously considered the question of quitting Leipzig. 
If at this moment any advantageous prospect had offered 
itself he very certainly would have followed it up, and his 
official existence as Cantor of St. Thomas would have closed 
at the end of his seven years' tenure, with small credit to 
the town of Leipzig. But this was not the case, otherwise 
it would not have occurred to Bach to apply to Erdmann, 
the friend of his youth, who had meanwhile been appointed 
the agent in Dantzig for the Emperor of Russia, to procure 
him an appointment there. What could Bach want to be at 
in Dantzig ? It will be seen that it was but a clutch in the 
empty air. However, we owe to this idea the most interest- 
ing letter that exists in the master's hand : 


Your Excellency will forgive an old and faithful servant for 
taking the liberty of troubling you with this letter. Nearly four years 
have now elapsed since your Excellency did me the pleasure of kindly 
answering my last sent to you ; 112 though, as I remember, you were 
graciously pleased to desire that I should give you some news of my 
vicissitudes in life, and I hereby proceed to obey you. From my youth 
up my history has been well known to you, until the change which led 
me to Cothen as Capellmeister. There lived there a gracious Prince, 
who both loved and understood music, and I thought there to spend my 
life and end my days. As it turned out, however, his Serene Highness 
married a Princess of Berenburg, and then it appeared as though the 
musical dispositions of the said Prince had grown somewhat lukewarm, 

112 Erdmann had come from Dantzig in 1725 to Sax Gotha, his native place, 
to arrange some matters of business ; but, as we gather from this letter, he 
had not seen Bach on this occasion. 


while at the same time the new Princess served as an amusement to 
him, and it pleased God that I should be called to be Director Musicea 
and Cantor to the Thomasschule in this place. At first it did not 
altogether please me to become a Cantor from having been a Capell- 
meister, and for this reason I deferred my decision for a quarter of a 
year; however, the position was described to me in such favourable 
terms that finally (and especially as my sons seemed inclined to study 
here) I ventured upon it, in the Name of the Most High; I came to 
Leipzig, passed my examination, and then made the move. And kere, 
by God's pleasure, I remain to this day. But now, since I find (I.) that 
this appointment is by no means so advantageous as it was described to 
me ; (II.) that many fees incidental to it are now stopped ; (III.) that 
the town is very dear to live in ; (IV.) and that the authorities are very 
strange folks, with small love for music, so that I live under almost 
constant vexation, jealousy, and persecution, I feel compelled to seek, 
with God's assistance, my fortune elsewhere. If your Excellency 
should know of, or be able to find, a suitable appointment in your town 
for your old and faithful servant, I humbly crave you to give me the 
benefit of your favourable recommendation. Nothing shall be wanting on 
my part to give satisfaction (and justify) your favourable recommen- 
dation and intercession, and to use my best diligence. My present posi- 
tion secures me about 700 thlrs., and when there are rather more deaths 
than usual the fees increase in proportion ; but it is a healthy air, so 
it happens, on the contrary as in the past year that I lost above 100 
thalers of the usual funeral fees. In Thuringia I can do more with 
400 thalers than here with twice as many hundred, by reason of the 
excessive cost of living. I must now make some small mention of my 
domestic circumstances. I am now married for the second time, and 
my first wife died in Cothen. Of my first marriage, three sons and a 
daughter are living, which your Excellency saw in Weimar, as you may 
be graciously pleased to remember. Of my second marriage, one son 
and two daughters are living. My eldest is Studiosus Juris, the other 
two are one in the first and the other in the second class, and my eldest 
daughter is still unmarried. The children of my second marriage are 
still little, the eldest, a boy, being six years old. They are all born 
musicians, and I can assure you that I can already form a concert, 
both vocal and instrumental, of my own family, particularly as my 
present wife sings a very clear soprano, and my eldest daughter joins 
in bravely. I should almost overstep the bounds of politeness by 
troubling your Excellency any further, so I hasten to conclude with 
most devoted respects, and remain your Excellency's life long and most 
obedient and humble servant, 

LEIPZIG, October 28, i73o. lls JOH : SEBAST : BACH. 

118 The history of this letter is given in the Preface; the address is wanting. 
Since quoting certain passages of this letter on p. 147, a friend has put me in 
possession of a photograph copy of the whole document. 


This letter had not the hoped for result ; Bach remained 
in Leipzig, and, as we may safely conclude, not altogether 
unwillingly in the end. If the conditions of his life had been 
really unendurable, a man of such energetic character would 
never have rested till he had set himself free ; and, enjoying 
such fame as he did, it certainly could have been a matter of 
no great difficulty. Though Bach dwells with some insist- 
ance on the high price of the necessaries of life in Leipzig, 
and complains of the insufficiency and uncertainty of his in- 
come and the eloquence with which he alludes, in his 
memorial to the Council, to the financial advantages of the 
musicians in Dresden is highly significant some immediate 
pressure of circumstances and his general sense of discom- 
fort evidently made him take too black a view. We may 
counterbalance these complaints merely by the facts that at 
Bach's death his private concerns were left in good order, 
that his household was established on a comfortable footing, 
and that he even left a small sum of money. When Kuhnau 
even could say that, with his fixed salary, a musician like 
himself who was always receiving visits from his fellow 
artists, who often had to treat the students who sang with 
the choir, and had besides a large household to keep up 
could not make much show in the world, how much more 
must this have been the case with Bach, whose family was 
so much larger and whose house no musician on his travels 
ever passed by? That he should, under these circumstances, 
have laid anything by, speaks volumes. 

Then he speaks of suffering from the jealousy of his fellow 
artists, we think at once of Gorner. But where could such 
a man as Bach have gone without finding others jealous of 
him ? The musical resources of the place were no doubt 
meagre, but this he must have known from the first, and in 
some respects they had actually increased and improved. 
And, finally, if the attitude of the authorities was not very 
encouraging nay, at times, oppressive and offensive Bach 
himself must have seen that the matters at issue were not 
of so crucial a nature as to lead to the question " To be, or 
not to be ?" So by degrees the black clouds rolled over and 
the sky cleared again, and an occurrence which took place 


in that same year must have had a considerable influence 
over his affairs, an event which may be said to have led to 
the happiest period of Bach's life in Leipzig. 

In September, Johann Matthias Gesner, the newly elected 
Rector of the Thomasschule, came to take up his appoint- 
ment. Gesner was born in 1691, at Roth, near Nuremberg, 
he had studied at Jena, and in 1715 he became Conrector of 
the Academy at Weimar. 114 Here he remained till 1729, 
and for seven years had been Principal of the Ducal Library. 
He then was placed at the head of the Academy at Anspach, 
but at the end of a year he gave up his appointment in order 
to go to Leipzig. Here he only remained till 1734 ; he had 
pledged himself not to hold a professorship in the University 
at the same time as his office as Rector (or Warden) of the 
school. But as this had always been the custom with the 
former Rectors, Gesner's position was much injured by this 
condition of remaining outside the pale of the University, 
and besides this, his distinguished abilities qualified him 
for the highest academical honours. In 1734 he therefore 
obeyed a call to the University of Gottingen, where he died, 
in 1761, after many years of brilliant and successful labours. 115 
All that Gesner did for classical learning in Germany how 
he revived the study of Greek, and was the first to con- 
template the works of the ancients from a higher standpoint 
as to their purport and form, giving them life and value in 
the mental training of his pupils is familiar to every student 
of philology. But even more important to the purpose of 
the present work was the talent he immediately displayed as 
a master of schoolboys. In him the Council had found the 
very man they needed, if the regulations drawn up for the 
resuscitation of the institution were to be anything but a 
dead letter. Under Gesner's mastership a new period 
dawned on the fallen fortunes of the school. Together with 
a vast store of practical learning he possessed in an eminent 

< Vol. I., p. 390. 

U6 J. Aug. Ernesti narratio de Jo. Matthia Gesnero ad Davidem Ruhnkenium. 
Addita opusculis oratoriis, 1762, p. 306. H. Sauppe, Johann Matthias Gesner, 
Weimar, 1856. 


degree the power of governing ; resolute firmness was com- 
bined in his character with humanity and gentleness ; in his 
conduct to the Council he was uniformly polite, but decided. 
It was inevitable that he should soon win their high esteem 
and complete confidence; indeed, he was from the first 
treated by the authorities with a distinction which proves that 
they were not so absolutely devoid of all sense of intel- 
lectual superiority as we might perhaps infer from Bach's 
experience. We may here quote a fact recorded by his 
successor, Johann August Ernesti. Gesner, whose health 
was feeble, and who during his residence in Leipzig had 
two severe illnesses, at first had a residence assigned to 
him at some distance from the school, which was being 
rebuilt ; and to relieve him of the inconvenience of the daily 
walk to the schools he was always carried thither in a chair, 
and back again to his house when lessons were over, at the 
cost of the Council. He was also so far relieved of the 
exercise of his functions as to be released from the duty 
of inspecting the school, which the Rector usually was 
required to do in weekly rotation with the three upper 
masters, and which was now undertaken by the Quartus, 
Magister Winkler. 

Gesner introduced a better mutual understanding among his 
colleagues, and set them an admirable example in the fulfil- 
ment of his duties. He secured the affection of his scholars 
by his new and intelligent methods of instruction, by his un- 
wearying interest in their progress and welfare, and by the 
determination with which he enforced discipline and morality. 
He carried out the new regulations with exactitude, endea- 
vouring to amplify and emphasise certain provisions and 
to modify the existing condition of things in harmony 
with their purport. Thus, for instance, under the existing 
system the Latin prayers, morning and evening, were replaced 
by German prayers ; Gesner, who attached the greatest 
importance to the practice of speaking Latin, proposed 
that the Latin services should be restored, because other- 
wise "rudeness i.e., want of culture and ignorance would 
once more get the upper hand." Again, in 1733, by his 
suggestion, rules in German, and in conformity with the 
11. s 


new school regulations, were printed for the scholars. 116 
One, who was a pupil at the Thomasschule under Gesner, 
describes his person and proceedings in the following 
pleasing manner: "In discipline he guided himself very 
precisely by the laws of the school, at that time just 
revised ; he was cautious in punishing, and in order to avoid 
undue severity would let a few days pass after the delinquency 
was committed. Then in the evening, after prayers, and 
when the motett was sung, he would come among the 
scholars, call up the criminal, point out with impressive 
gravity the impropriety and sinfulness of his fault, and 
then pronounce, besides the admonition, his verdict as to 
the punishment. This way of delivering judgment had a 
wonderful effect; all the more because he was universally 
respected. Every week all the scholars, even the outside 
day-boys, had to give in their diaries, and when they were 
returned to them they found ample evidence that nothing 
had escaped him. Ernesti also did this at first, but only, 
as before, with the foundation boys, and it was soon 
altogether given up, as Ernesti commonly forgot to give 
the diaries back. Gesner was in other respects very affable 
and affectionate in his intercourse with the boys, and would 
look in upon them even during the singing lessons, with 
which the Rectors did not usually trouble themselves, and 
would listen with pleasure to the practising of a piece of 
church music. If he found any boy at work in his room 
at anything which, though not part of his school task, 
was useful in itself for instance, if he were writing from 
a copy he did not fall upon him with a storm of indignation, 
but, if he saw a real talent for caligraphy, would recom- 
mend him to further study and practice, because, said 
he, the state had need of every variety of talent and 
skill. And to all he would preach, when opportunity 
offered, 'Always do something that is of some definite 

119 E. E. Hochweisen Raths der Stadt Leipzig Gesetze der Schule 
zu S. THOMAB. Leipzig, druckts Bernhard Christoph Breitkojrf, 1733, 
PP- . 39- 


use, and which you can turn to account in your calling 
in life.'" 117 

Bach and Gesner had already known each other in 
Weimar ; the acquaintance was now renewed and soon grew 
to be a hearty friendship between the two colleagues. Our 
authority has just told us how much interest Gesner took in 
Bach's musical efforts, how much he enjoyed his perform- 
ances, even visiting him in lesson hours. He exerted 
himself also in other ways to give the music in the school a 
helping hand so far as lay in his power, and when, in 1732, 
Bach wished to acquire a MS. collection of motetts and 
responses for the choir of St. Thomas, he himself applied to 
the Council for the necessary sum, which was readily voted. 
He had a strong feeling for music and could do full justice 
to Bach's greatness ; years after he had not forgotten the 
overwhelming impression made on him by that grand 
musician. We find eloquent witness to this in the note 
which he makes in his edition, published in 1738, of the 
Institutiones Oratories of Marcus Fabius Quinctilianus to a 
passage (I., 12, 3) where Quinctilian is speaking of the 
capacity possessed by man of comprehending and doing 
several things at once ; adducing as an example a player on 
the lyre, who can at the same time utter both words and 
tones and besides play on the instrument and mark time with 
his foot. To which Gesner remarks, " All these, my Fabius, 
you would deem very trivial could you but rise from the dead 
and see Bach (whom I mention because not long ago he was 
my colleague in the Thomasschule at Leipzig) ; how he with 
both hands, and using all his fingers, plays on a key board 
which seems to consist of many lyres in one, and may be 
called the instrument of instruments, of which the innumer- 
able pipes are made to sound by means of bellows ; and how 
he, going one way with his hands, and another way with the 

117 Historia Scholarum Lipsiensium collecta a Joh. Frid. Kohlero, pastore 
Tauchensi, 1776 seqq., p. 160. MS. preserved in the Royal Public Library at 
Berlin. The author adds, " These remarks are from the words of a scholar of 
Gesner, who spoke often, and always with enthusiasm, of his master's great 

S 2 


utmost celerity with his feet, elicits by his unaided skill 
many of the most various passages, which, however, uniting 
produce as it were hosts of harmonious sounds ; I say, could 
you only see him, how he achieves what a number of your 
lyre-players and six hundred flute-players could never achieve, 
not as one who may sing to the lyre, and so perform his part, 
but by presiding over thirty or forty performers all at 
once, recalling this one by a nod, another by a stamp of 
the foot, another with a warning finger, keeping time and 
tune ; and while high tones are given out by some, deep 
tones by others, and notes between them by others, this one 
man, standing alone in the midst of the loud sounds, having 
the hardest task of all, can discern at every moment if any 
one goes astray, and can keep all the musicians in order, 
restore any waverer to certainty and prevent him from going 
wrong; rhythm is in his every limb, he takes in all the 
harmonies by his subtle ear, as it were uttering all the 
different parts through the medium of his own mouth. Great 
admirer as I am of antiquity in other respects, I yet deem 
this Bach of mine, and whosoever there may chance to be 
that resembles him, to comprise in himself many Orpheuses 
and twenty Arions." 118 

With such feelings of admiration and liking as Gesner had 
for Bach he must have made it his concern to lighten, as far 
as possible, his colleague's sense of discomfort, and also to 
bring him into pleasanter relations with the Council. And we 
can see that he actually attempted both, from two memorials 
which he addressed to the Council and which as the 
petitioner was Gesner were no doubt successful. Although 
Bach had been for the most part represented by a deputy 
in giving the Latin lessons, he was not altogether released 
from them, and at any rate had to hold himself in readiness 
in case of need. Gesner now proposed that the Council should 
entrust the Cantor with the general supervision of the school 
during week days, which he had hitherto undertaken only on 
Fridays, since it was a function which most naturally allied 

118 The first person to draw attention to this passage in Gesner's commentary 
was Constantin Bellermann in the Parnassus Musarum, p. 41 (see Vol. I., p. 
801) ; J .t was subsequently pointed out again by Joh. Adam Hiller. 


itself with his other duties. In exchange for this, and for a 
few hours more of singing lessons, he was to be exonerated 
altogether from general teaching of any kind. This sugges- 
tion was probably made by Gesner on the occasion of Magister 
Pezold's death, May 30, 1731, since on the arrival of a new 
functionary it was easy to modify the position of affairs ; in 
the beginning of 1732 Joh. August Ernesti was appointed 
Conrector. While the place was vacant the Conrector's fees 
amounted to a sum of 120 gulden 10 ggr. 5 pf., of which 
Pezold's heirs received forty gulden, and Gesner begged the 
Council to divide the remainder equally among the Rector, 
Cantor, Tertius, and Quartus. Bach had not indeed ever given 
lessons in the place of the Conrector, but the Inspector's work 
had of course come round in more frequent rotation. Hence 
Gesner wrote : " The duties of teaching, it is true, have 
occasioned no trouble to Herr Bach. Still he hopes, this 
time, to have his equal share in the division, because on the 
last occasion (when Ernesti died) he was altogether passed 
over." So here we may suppose the great "sequestration" 
question was brought to a final issue. 

Bach, however, was not so easy to conciliate. The same 
obstinacy which supported him in the pursuit of his aims 
characterised any antipathy he had once conceived. When, 
in 1733, he dedicated to the King and Elector the two first 
sections of his B minor Mass he frankly says, in the letter 
which accompanied it, that his object in this dedication was 
to obtain some Court appointment. In his present position 
he had no doubt suffered from one and another unmerited 
insult and occasionally from a diminution in his fees ; 119 all 
this he would then be relieved from. But although the 
appointment he desired was not for the present accorded 
to him, no farther serious differences arose between Bach 
and the Council. They had learnt to know each other 
and henceforth sought to accommodate matters. Bach's 
position in Leipzig could never be more favourable than it 

119 " Accidentien," which commonly means fees, in this letter had no doubt a 
more general meaning, including all moneys accruing from exceptional sources. 
The fees for funerals and weddings, and the Cantor's share of the money col- 
lected in the processional singing, were secured to him by law. 


was now. He had the command of the most famous Musical 
Society in the town, of which he could also avail himself 
for the church services, and some excellent pupils, as Johann 
Ludwig Krebs, the son of his old Weimar pupil Tobias 
Krebs ; and his own three eldest sons who already deserved 
to be considered important, or at any rate highly promising 
artists were of efficient use in his work. The organist of 
the New Church was a musician devoted to his service, and 
at St. Nicholas' he procured the appointment, in 1730, of a 
former pupil, Johann Schneider, who before that had been 
Kammermusicus in Weimar. 120 

It is a sufficient proof of Bach's consequence and influence 
that two of his former pupils should be among the candidates 
for the vacant post of organist. Johann Caspar Vogler, an 
admirable musician and court organist at Weimar, competed 
with Schneider, but the decision arrived at was that Vogler 
misled the people by playing too fast, so Schneider was pre- 
ferred. He was at the same time a good violin player and 
could be of use to Bach in other ways on various occasions. 
He held his post for years after Bach's death. 121 And now, 
last and best of all, he had the advantage of Gesner's friend- 
ship, and the support of his authority, which was favourable 
to music. That this was in fact a source of happiness to him 
we may take as a matter of course, though there is no direct 
evidence of it. An altered version of the cantata composed 
in 1726, for the birthday of the Princess of Anhalt-Cothen, 
may probably be attributed to Gesner, though no proof can 
be adduced ; but we may regard as evidence of their hearty 
co-operation the solemn ceremonial with which the enlarged 
and improved school buildings were opened on June 5, 1732. 
In the Latin speech made by Gesner on this occasion he did 
not fail to mention, with a few words of warm approval, the 
care given to music in the institution, and Bach conducted a 

120 \Valther gives 1729 as the date of Schneider's appointment. But this 
is an error ; the place was no doubt vacant in 1729 but it was not given to 
Schneider before August i, 1730. 

121 In 1766 Schneider applied for an assistant which was granted, as we learn 
from documents concerning the organists of the church of St. Nicholas. 


cantata of which the words were written by his colleague 
Winkler. The music to these verses and very bad they 
are is not known to exist. 122 



THE arrangement of the Lutheran service throughout 
Electoral Saxony was regulated by an act issued by 
Duke Heinrich, in 1540. This decree aimed not merely at 
establishing a uniform order of divine worship throughout 
the Duchy of Saxony and its dependencies at that time, but 
also at laying down a line of limitation within which different 
parishes and congregations might regulate their respective 
services according to their needs and wishes. This was in 
accordance with Luther's own views, as expressly stated in 
his treatise on the German Mass and the ordering of divine 
service (Wittenberg, 1526), to the effect that each one should, 
in all Christian freedom and in accordance with his own 
pleasure, use only such customs of those he laid down "how, 
when, where, and so long as circumstances suited and per- 
mitted." And this was actually continued even after 
the church ordinances of the Elector August, in 1580, 
had expressly introduced a greater uniformity in the 
divine services in the different towns and villages of his 
dominions. Thus there were certain usages in the church 
services at Leipzig which gave them a quite peculiar 
character. The Lutheran form of worship was a modifica- 
tion of the Roman Catholic Mass. In many towns and 
districts this was more rapidly and completely abandoned; 

132 They are given in App. B., x., 4, of the German edition of this work. In 
the invitation circular, sent out the day before, Gesner expresses a wish that 
the scholars may be "juvenes ad humanitatem, quce litteris censetur et musice, 
Probe institute atque exculti." 


in Leipzig, for a long time indeed even during Bach's 
residence there it retained a close resemblance to it. This 
was visible partly in the external ceremonial and usage, as, 
for instance, in the use of a little bell at the consecration of 
the bread and wine at the Lord's Supper, in the retention of 
ceremonial robes for the officiating ministers and surplices 
for the singing boys, and partly in the continued use of the 
original form of certain portions of the Catholic ritual, and, 
as connected with this, of a more extended use of Latin. 
These traditions prevailed very extensively even in the more 
accessory details of religious life. The bequests which, even 
so late as Bach's time, were not unfrequently made to the 
school foundation for the public performance of certain 
chorales on the anniversary of the testator's death, plainly 
indicate a Roman origin. 123 Latin hymns and responses 
were sung even in the processional singing, as well as 
German hymns and songs, and there was no lack of timid 
souls who would gladly have seen the great resemblance of 
the Protestant services at Leipzig with that of the Roman 
church radically altered. Indeed, in 1702, the Council 
thought it ought to take the matter in hand, and on 
February 13 addressed a petition to the King-Elector, to 
request that devout and approved hymns, prayers, and 
texts in German might be for the future introduced in all 
the churches of Saxony. At the time of the Reformation 
matters had been otherwise. The authorities had been 
anxious not to cause a collision between the clergy and 
the simpler folks and new converts by any too rapid and 
conspicuous changes in the church ceremonial ; they had 
hoped, indeed, to attract greater numbers to the Lutheran 
evangelical church by this moderation, but the pressing 
danger now was that many persons, not seeing any 
very great difference in the services, might be misled 
into a wrong interpretation of the Lutheran doctrines. 

128 To give a single instance, from November 19, 1736, the chorale " O Jesu 
Christ mein's Lebens Licht," was to be sung every year in the New Church in 
memory of Dame Anna Elisabeth Seeber, who bequeathed, in consideration, 
fifteen thalers a year for distribution. See the account book of the New 
Church for that year. 


" Spiritual songs " in German were far better adapted to 
rouse feelings of devotion than the old Latin responses and 
versicles, which were, for the most part, not understood 
by the people. However, the petition was not adequately 
supported. The townspeople of Leipzig knew full well that 
these forms of divine service were made interesting by 
their peculiarity, and even the clerical body were of 
opinion that the Latin hymns still pleased some people, 
and particularly strangers. It had, therefore, but small 
results; only, with regard to the school perambulations, it 
was determined but not before 1711 that instead of the 
response " Sint lumbi vestri circumcincti " (Luke xiii. 35), 
certain German hymns should be sung referring to the Day 
of Judgment namely, " Es ist gewisslich an der Zeit," 
" Wachet auf, Jruft uns die Stimme," and " O Ewigkeit du 

An exact comprehension of the order of divine service in 
the churches of St. Nicholas and St. Thomas is of the 
greatest importance to an estimate of Bach's church music, 
for it is only perfectly intelligible when regarded in all its 
bearings and relations to the nature and scheme of 
these services. We have a note in Bach's own hand of the 
order of the service on the first Sunday in Advent when he 
was in Leipzig, in I7I4. 124 As it is interesting on this 
account it may find a place here, although it will be seen 
from what follows that it is not altogether exact and com- 
plete : 

The order of divine service in Leipzig on the first Sunday in Advent, 
in the morning : i. The Prelude. 2. Motett. 3. Prelude to the Kyrie, 
which is accompanied throughout. 4. Intoning at the altar. 5. The 
Epistle read. 6. The Litany sung. 7. Prelude to the chorale. 8. The 
Gospel read. 9. The Prelude to the principal music. 10. The Creed 
sung. ii. The sermon. 12. After the sermon a few verses of a hymn 
are commonly sung. 13. Verba institutionis. 14. Preludes and chorales 
alternately until the celebration of the Communion. 

The services were different on ordinary Sundays, on Holy 
Days, and in Passion week. We will begin with ordinary 
Sundays. The series of services, during which the houses 

184 See Vol. I., p. 519. 


were closed all day and all public transactions were pro- 
hibited, began at 5.30 in the morning with matins in the 
church of St. Nicholas. There was a special choral 
institute attached to this church, under its own Cantor, 
besides the choir from St. Thomas', and this was supported 
by a municipal stipend. It consisted of students and was 
governed by strict regulations of its own. 125 At the same 
time the Cantor of St. Thomas exercised a certain super- 
vision, since the musical property was entrusted to his 
care. 126 The choir sung the Psalm " Venite, exultemus 
Domino," then a Psalm, a Responsorium ; afterwards one 
of them read the Gospel for the day from the desk in 
Latin, followed by another who read it in German. Then 
came the Te Deum, started by the organist, and played and 
sung verse by verse antiphonally between him and the choir. 
The service ended with " Da pacem," or some other versicle 
adapted to the season, and last of all " Benedicamus 

Morning service began precisely at seven in both churches. 
An organ prelude introduced a motett suited to the Gospel 
for the day, and usually sung in Latin. In Lent, or in 
times of general mourning, when the organ was not played, 
the motett was omitted, and the service began with the 
Song of Zacharias " Benedictus Dominus " (Luke i. 68), and 
" Vivo ego." 1 * 1 It was not till then that the Introit was 
performed, with which, according to Duke Heinrich's Diary, 
the service was said to begin ; after that the Kyrie. This was 
sung alternately in Latin and German in the two churches ; 
when it was in German the version beginning " Kyrie Gott 
Vater in Ewigkeit " was used. Sometimes the Kyrie was 

m These rules were drawn up in 1767, when the institute probably came 
into existence. They were re-written in 1678 by Gottfried Vopelius, well 
known as the compiler of the New Leipzig Hymn Book of 1682, and Cantor 
at the time to St. Nicholas. The MS. exists in the library of the church. 
The Cantor in Bach's time was Magister Johann Hieronymus Homilius. 

146 In 1767, when the hymn for Palm Sunday, "Gloria, laus et honor tibi," 
was to be sung, Doles, the Cantor, confessed that he had lost the music. 

m The disuse of the organ in Lent was so far limited in the year 1780, that 
from that time the Communion hymns at least might be sung with an organ 
accompaniment ; see the accounts of the Church of St. Nicholas, from Candle- 
mas to Crucis, 1780. 


in a concerted form, probably during the fasts that is 
to say, on the first Sunday in Advent, which agrees with 
Bach's statement quoted above ; since on the last three 
Sundays in Advent, during Lent, and on the Ember days no 
concerted music was used. Another day on which the Kyrie 
was given in a concerted form will presently be mentioned 
in enumerating the festivals. Next the Lord's Prayer was 
said by the minister, kneeling at the altar, and the sacra- 
mental cup was placed on the altar by the sacristan ; one of 
the deacons intoned the " Gloria in excelsis," to which either 
the choir responded with " Et in terra pax hominibus" or 
the congregation sang the hymn " Allein Gott in der Hoh" 
"To God alone on high." Then followed the blessing in 
Latin, " Dominus vobiscum," with the answer of the choir, 
"Et cum spiritu tuo." The Collect was now read, likewise 
in Latin that is to say, sung to the proper tone ; and after 
the chanting of the Epistle for the day from the reading- 
desk in Advent and Lent the Litany was sung in such a 
way as that the congregation not only repeated the responses, 
but joined in the petitions the Litany was chanted in 
St. Thomas' by four boys specially appointed and called 
" Altarists," the choir responding. 128 Then came a congre- 
gational hymn suited to the Gospel, while on other Sundays 
the congregational hymn followed immediately after the 
Epistle, and the Litany was omitted. The Gospel was 
then intoned from the desk, and after it the minister whose 
weekly turn it was intoned the " Credo " before the altar, 
and on the three last Sundays in Advent and in Lent, as 
also on the Festivals of the Apostles, the whole of the 
Nicene Creed was sung in Latin by the choir. On other 
Sundays the prelude to the principal piece of music came 
immediately after the minister's intoning, and then the 
music itself. 129 When it was ended the Creed was sung in 

118 This is shown by the regulations of the Leipzig Consistory of Jan. 31, 
1810, which abrogates the former custom. In the Ephoral Archives at Leipzig. 

129 In Bach's list of the order we find under No. 8, after the words " the 
Gospel read," the following addition scratched through " and Credo intoned." 
Hence Bach must, by mistake at first, have noted down the order of the 
service as it was told him for the first Sunday in Advent. 


German by the whole congregation. (Wir glauben all' an 
einen Gott.) As has been said, on ordinary Sundays part- 
singing was performed in the two principal churches alter- 
nately. Thus when it was not performed the German Creed 
was sung immediately after the intoning of the Credo in 
Latin. 180 Then came the sermon on the Gospel, which was 
once more interrupted before the Gospel itself was read by 
the congregational hymn, " Herr Jesu Christ dich zu uns 
wend." The sermon lasted an hour, from eight till nine, 
since the whole service was throughout adapted to an exact 
division of time, and to keep it strictly to these limits a 
sand hour-glass was used. 181 After the sermon the general 
confession was recited with the usual church prayers, and 
after the customary ascription of praise from the pulpit, 
and the Lord's Prayer, the blessing of St. Paul, " The 
peace of God which passeth all understanding," &c., closed 
the service. While the preacher was descending from the 
pulpit a few verses were sung of some suitable hymn. 

The Communion celebration formed the principal part of the 
service. It is not quite clear whether on ordinary Sundays 
it was preceded by the introductory words of Luther's para- 
phrase of the Lord's Prayer and the admonition which follows; 
it may however be considered probable from Duke Heinrich's 
decree. During the communion German hymns appropriate 
to the service were sung ; but before these, even on ordinary 
Sundays and holidays, another harmonised composition was 
sung, as we learn from the list made by Bach and from a note 
written on the second portion of the continue part for his 
Trinity Cantata" Hochst erwiinschtes Freudenfest " " Feast 
of joy so long desired." The end of the whole service 
without a final collect as it would seem consisted in the bene- 
diction "God be gracious and merciful unto us and give us His 
blessing." The length of the Morning service varied with 

130 It was thus the custom took its rise which Rochlitz speaks of (Fur 
Freunde der Tonkunst, S. 4, 2nd ed., note to p. 278) as a hardly credible 
monstrosity : that the Latin Credo was sung in a " lively" manner just before 
the German creed. 

141 " 12. ggr. for repairing the sand-clock on the organ." Account of 
St. Thomas, 1739-1740, p. 62. 


the number of communicants; often it was not over till 
eleven o'clock, thus lasting four hours. This of itself accounts 
for its beginning so early, and the consequence was that, in 
winter, the music before the sermon was for the most part 
performed by candlelight. 182 

Mid-day service, which began at about a quarter before 
noon, was very simple in character. It consisted of a 
sermon with two congregational hymns to precede and one 
to follow it. The choir were not employed in it. 

At about a quarter past one Vespers began with a motett, 
followed by a congregational hymn. One of the deacons in- 
toned a psalm from the desk, the Lord's Prayer, and a collect. 
Then came another hymn and the sermon, which treated of 
the epistle, or in Advent of the Catechism, and in Lent of the 
history of the Passion. After the sermon the Magnificat 
was sung in German to the four-part melody by Joh. 
Hermann Schein, 183 and, after a collect recited at the altar 
and the Blessing, the service concluded with the hymn 
" Nun danket alle Gott." 

As regarded the Holy days, three great Festivals were 
specially celebrated, each being honoured with a particularly 
full performance of the service for three days running. 
Matins in St. Nicholas' remained unchanged, excepting that 
they began at five instead of at half-past. Morning service 
and Vespers were begun on each day by a hymn sung by the 
choir ; these hymns were : at Christmas, Puer natus in Beth- 
lehem; at Easter, "Heut triumphiret Gottes Sohn"; at Whit- 
suntide, Spiritus sancti gratia. After this, at Morning service, 
came the organ prelude and motett. The collect, which pre- 
ceded the epistle, seems to have had reference to some intro- 
ductory verse from the Bible, appropriate to the day. 134 After 
the hymn that followed the sermon the complete Latin pre- 

131 When part-music was performed the Cantor and the Conrector had to 
provide the lighting for the organ choir. The Cantor received for this purpose 
eleven thlrs. fifteen ggr. per annum out of the revenues of St. Thomas, and 
for St. Nicholas', where the choir was much smaller, seven thlrs. twenty- 
one ggr. 

1S3 See Vopelius, Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch, p. 440. 

134 This I infer from Vopelius, who has verses appropriate to every festival in 
his hymn book. 


fation was sung as introductory to the Communion, and then 
the Sanctus was sung in parts; besides which during the 
Communion either a motett or a concerted piece was per- 
formed. The whole service closed with a festal hymn sung 
by the congregation after the Benediction. 

At Vespers the collect before the sermon was omitted, and 
after the sermon the Magnificat was sung in Latin and in 
parts. Church cantatas were performed at Morning service 
and at Vespers in both churches on "the first two days of each 
festival ; at Vespers one took the place of the omitted offer- 
tory collect. Still only two cantatas were performed on each 
day, since the one which had been sung in the morning in one 
church served for the other in the afternoon, and vice -versa. 
The church of which the Superintendent for the time being 
was the minister in Bach's time therefore that of St. 
Nicholas had the precedence that is to say, the first and 
best choir sang there in the morning of the first Holy day 
under Bach's own direction, while the principal music, as it 
was called, was performed in the morning of the second day 
at St. Thomas'; on the third day music was given in only 
one of the churches. 135 

The festivals on which this double performance was given 
were Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide, also at the New 
Year, Epiphany, Ascension, and Trinity, and the Annun- 
ciation of the Blessed Virgin. The hymns specially appointed 
were, for the New Year and Epiphany, Puer natus in 
Bethlehem; for Ascension, " Heut triumphiret Gottes Sohn"; 
for Trinity, " Spiritus sancti gratia" the same as at 
Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide. At the New Year 
and Epiphany the mid-day sermon was preached in only 
one of the churches. 

185 See, " Texte zur Leipziger Khchen-Music, auffdie heiligen Oster-Feyertage, 
ingleichen auff Jubilate, Cantate, und das Fest der Himmelfarth Christi, Anno 
1711. LEIPZIG, gedruckt bey Jmmanuel Tietzen," und " Texte zur Leipziger 
Kirchen-A/wstc, Auf die Heiligen Weyhnachts-Feyertage, und den Sonntag 
darauf, 1720. Ingleichen auf das Fest Der Beschneidung Christi, den drauf 
fofgenden Sonntag, Das Fest der Offenbahrung, und den Sonntag darauf, des 
1721 sten Jahres. Leipzig, gedruckt bey Jmmanuel Tietzen." These are both 
to be found in the Library of the Historical Society (Verein fur die Geschichte) 
at Leipzig. 


Of the three festivals in honour of the Virgin, the 
Purification and the Annunciation had a specially ecclesi- 
astical character ; on the first, both morning and afternoon 
service were begun and ended alike with the hymn Ex legis 
observantia. The Festival of the Annunciation was held on 
March 25 ; but if this date fell on Maunday Thursday, Good 
Friday, or Easter Day, it was kept on Palm Sunday, and, in 
spite of its being in Lent, part-singing and the organ were 

The Reformation Festival was kept only as a half-holiday 
and always on October 31 ; but if this fell on a Saturday 
or a Monday it was celebrated on the previous or the 
following Sunday. 186 The Morning service began with an 
organ piece and a motett; the Kyrie, which followed the 
Introit, was set in a concerted form. The Epistle II. Thess. 
ii. 3-8 was intoned, and then for the Gospel, Rev. xiv. 6-8, 
was read. After the sermon the choir sang the Te Deum to 
the accompaniment of trumpets and drums, and, as a close 
to the service, the congregation sang "Nun danket alle 
Gott." The services for St. John's and St. Michael's days 
were essentially the same. All these festivals had this in 
common, that a festal hymn was sung in the middle of 
the sermon ; apparently the collect before the Epistle was 
on all of these days founded on a suitable text, and that for 
the Reformation Festival seems to have been the Latin one 
pro pace, " for peace." 137 

The order of service for Passion week had this feature 
in common with the whole of Lent, that neither the organ 
nor concerted music were employed. This rule was not 
without exceptions, and it has already been said that it was 
broken through if the Annunciation fell on or was trans- 
ferred to Palm Sunday. When Palm Sunday was celebrated 
as such the order of service was as follows : An organ 

Gerber, Historic der Kirchen-CEREMONIEN in Sachsen. Dresden und 
Leipzig, 1732, V. 4, p. 227. 

187 At least it was so in the year 1755, when, moreover, the order of the 
Reformation Day services underwent several changes. Compare also Scho- 
berlein, Schatz des liturgischen Chor-und Gemeindegesangs, Part I., Gottingen, 
Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1865, p. 487. 


prelude led at once into the Kyrie. After the intonation of 
the Gloria, the hymn " Allein Gott in der Hoh sei Ehr" 
was sung by the congregation. Instead of the Gospel, the 
Archdeacon chanted the history of the Passion, in German, 
according to St. Matthew, before the high altar, with the 
assistance of a choir of scholars. This was followed by the 
motett, Ecce quomodo moritur Justus, by Gallus. 188 The 
celebration itself was not preceded by the whole of the 
Praefation, but as an introduction to the Lord's prayer, 
the so-called praefatio orationis dominicae lsa was read, as it 
seems, in Latin, and this was usual also on the preceding 
Sundays from the third Sunday in Lent onwards. Then a 
motett was again sung, and hymns on the Passion or the 
Communion, by the congregation. At the early service, 
which began at about half-past five, 140 it may be noticed 
that the choristers sang the hymn Gloria, laus et honor 
tibi sit, Rex Christe. Also that on Maunday Thursday 
the service began with an organ prelude. The passage 
from Phil. ii. 8, Humiliavit semetipsum, was sung as an 
Introit after the fipistle, the hymn Crux fidelis inter omnes, 
and, during the Communion, the Motett, Jesus Christus 
Dominus noster. The same Introit was sung on Good Friday, 
but the organ was altogether silent. For the Epistle and 
Gospel, Psalm xxii. and Isaiah liii. were used inter- 
changeably year and year about. Instead of the chanted 
passage from the Gospel, however, the Passion according 
to St. John was sung, as that according to St. Matthew 
had been on Palm Sunday. The accounts of the Passion 
in St. Mark and St. Luke were taken no cognisance of in 
the Liturgy. This part of the service was followed, not by 
the motett Ecce quomodo, but by the congregational hymn 
"O Traurigkeit ! o Herzeleid ! " The celebration was again 

ise Vopelius, p. 263 ff. Johann Adam Hiller, in the preface to his Vier- 
stimmige lateinische und deutsche Chorgesange " Four-part choral hymns 
in Latin and German " (Part I., Leipzig, 1791), says that this motett was 
always sung in churches on Fast-days. 

199 On this see Schoberlein, loc. cit., p. 371 and 373. 

140 The authorities give the time as half- past six, but this must be a mistake, 
for the Morning service began at seven o'clock, and the early service mus: have 
been celebrated on Palm Sunday at the same time as on other Sundays. 


preceded by the Praefatio orationis dominicae, but no motett 
was sung in the course of it, only hymns on the Communion 
and the Passion were sung by the congregation. Until the 
year 1721 no performances of the Passion were known in 
Leipzig excepting in the chorale form. The influence of 
operatic music had gradually become so strong that it had 
at last penetrated even into Passion week. At the date 
just mentioned, the modern " madrigal " or polyphonic style 
of Passion music, consisting wholly of part-writing, first found 
a place in the vesper service for Good Friday. Kuhnau, 
who so often bewailed the destructive influence of the opera 
on church music, was obliged to yield, nay, even to 
compose a work in this style himself. This still exists, though 
only in the sketch, and will be described more fully farther 
on. The new performances of Passion music took place in 
the Churches of St. Nicholas and St. Thomas in alternate 
years. The Thomaskirche was chosen first, perhaps because 
it had more suitable accommodation for musical performances 
on a large scale. 141 This arrangement remained in vogue 
for nearly half a century until the old performances in a 
chorale style were entirely abolished by an order from the 
Consistory on March 20, 1766. The deacons were for 
the most part unmusical, the performances sounded ill and 
had not tended to edification. 

From 1766 onwards Passion music in the madrigal style 
was employed also in the Morning service, being one and 
the same in the two churches, but so arranged that in 
one year the performance took place in the Thomaskirche 
on Palm Sunday, and in the Nikolaikirche on Good Friday, 
while next year the order was reversed. In time these 
performances disappeared altogether from the service. 
The vesper service on Good Friday was performed in the 
following order : It began with a motett, after which the 
congregation sang the hymn " Da Jesus an dem Kreuze 
stund." Then came the Passion music. The sermon 

141 That this was the case is seen from Bach being obliged to arrange for 
the first performance of his Passion music in St. Nicholas'. Rathsarchiv "Acta 
die Kirchen-Musik." 

II. T 


which followed was always on the subject of Christ's 
entombment that is to say, before 1721, up to which time 
the Good Friday vesper service was held only in the Thomas- 
kirche. There is no doubt that this was the subject, as a 
rule, even after that date, although it would have involved 
an anomaly if the Passion music, like both of those by 
Bach, were in two parts. In such a case, the first 
part would have come before, and the second after the 
sermon, and so the continuity in the idea of the service 
would have been destroyed. After the sermon, the motett 
Ecce quomodo was again sung. The congregation once 
more sang the hymn " O Traurigkeit ! o Herzeleid ! " A 
collect and the blessing were chanted, and for the close 
the hymn " Nun danket alle Gott " was sung. 142 

Something still remains to be said with regard to the order 
of service in the University church on Sundays and Fast- 
days. Its course was considerably simpler. The Morning 
service began at nine o'clock with an organ prelude and the 
congregational hymn "Allein Gott in der Hoh sei Ehr." 
Then followed another hymn proper to the day, then the 
creed, and after that the sermon, by one of the University 
professors of theology, upon the Gospel. After the sermon 
another hymn was sung, which concluded the music. In 
Kuhnau's time music was only performed on the high 
festivals and during mass. After Bach and Gorner took 
part in the direction it became more frequent ; but whether 
it took place every Sunday, or, if not, what other arrange- 
ment was made, we cannot say. After the music the service 
was brought simply to a conclusion by the blessing "Gott 
sei uns gnadig" "God be merciful to us" spoken by the 
preacher. In the afternoon a short vesper service was per- 
formed, lasting from a quarter-past three till four, and con- 
sisting only of a hymn, a sermon by one of the "candidates," 
and the closing hymn " Ach bleib bei uns Herr Jesu Christ." 
A vesper service for Good Friday, with organ and sacred 
music (probably a sort of Passion music), was begun in 

141 Documents with regard to the arrangement of public service for Palm 
Sunday and Good Friday, &c., 1766 Ephoralarchiv at Leipzig. 


I728. ws This improvement was gradually achieved by Corner. 
Of the number of week-day services we need only mention 
those held in the Thomaskirche. In the church of St. 
Nicholas the liturgy was in the charge of the choristers, 
and in the University church there were no week-day 
services. The days on which the choir was employed in 
St. Thomas' were Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Satur- 
day. On Tuesday, at a quarter-past six, there was a 
sermon, preceded by a hymn. The choir sang several Latin 
psalms, the canticle of Zacharias, a German psalm, and at 
the end the Benedicamus Domino. On Thursday, at the 
same time, there was a sermon and the communion ; the 
service was identical with that of Tuesday, except that the 
creed was sung before the sermon. On Friday, the usual 
day of penitence, there was a full service at half-past one, 
when the Litany was sung. On Saturday, at two o'clock, 
a confessional service was held especially for those who 
were to receive the Sacrament on the Sunday. The Thomas- 
schule choir began with a vocal work (whether it were a 
motett, hymn, or psalm cannot be said) ; after a sermon on 
repentance, the Magnificat, a collect, and the blessing were 
chanted. While the private confessions were being heard, 
the chief practice of the music for Sunday took place in the 
organ loft. No composition by Bach can have been per- 
formed at these week-day services ; at most there was only 
a possibility of it on Saturday. The mention of these 
services is, however, not unimportant, because they serve 
to complete the picture of the church life of which Bach's 
sacred music is an integral part. By this means alone, 
however, the picture cannot be presented in all its details. 
To do this it would be necessary to give an account of 
the services in the New Church and St. Peter's Church, 
with which Bach stood in some relation, if only a slight one, 
as well as those in St. John's and St. George's Churches. 

148 Antonius Weizius, Verbessertes Leipzig, Leipzig, 1728, p. 12. In the 
Paulinerkirche, " This year, 1728, the first Good Friday vesper sermon was 
delivered, on which occasion the organ was used to accompany German 
hymns, and other instruments were combined with it." These last words 
evidently indicate some sacred music of a concerted kind, since no hymn but 
the Te Deitm was ever accompanied with instruments as well as the organ. 

T 2 


Their mere mention must here suffice; it will be readily 
imagined that there was an unusual variety of religious exer- 
cises at Leipzig. And this multiplicity of services had not 
been handed down from past times of different manners, so 
that they were kept up only out of respect ; it was the 
last generation who, in 1699, had restored the service in 
the New Church, and in 1711 that in the Peterskirche, 
and who had changed the service in the University Church, 
which had hitherto been only occasionally held, into a regular 
service, to the delight of the whole town. 144 Thus it is beyond 
all doubt that at this time there was a very active devotional 
life, and that Bach was right in looking forward to a great 
effect in this place from any important sacred work. 

The order of service, which was strictly prescribed in 
every detail, regulated even the share to be taken in it by 
the people. In the majority of cases not only were the 
places where the congregation were to join in prescribed, 
but the particular hymns to be used. In the ordinary 
Sunday services, as was said before, the hymns " Allein 
Gott in der Hdh," " Wir glauben all," " Herr Jesu Christ 
dich zu uns wend," " Nun danket alle Gott," and " Ach 
bleib bei uns Herr Jesu Christ " had their own place 
assigned to them, while for the hymn before the Gospel, and 
that after the sermon, a choice, although always a limited 
one, was given. For festivals the specifications were more 
exact. Between the Epistle and the Gospel the following 
hymns were sung in the morning: at Christmas, " Gelobet 
scist du, Jesu Christ " ; at Easter, " Christ lag in Todes- 
banden"; and at Whitsuntide, " Komm heiliger Geist, Herre 
Gott." After the exordium of the sermon : at Christmas, 
" Ein Kindelein so lobelich"; at Easter, " Christ ist erstan- 
den"; and at Whitsuntide, "Nun bitten wir den heilgen 
Geist." For the evening service, after the anthem, the 
following were sung: for Christmas, " Vom Himmel hoch da 
komm ich her," " Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schaar," or 
"Lobt Gott, ihr Christen allzugleich"; for Easter, "Christ 

144 Kuhnau begins one of his petitions to the Council with a statement that 
" the whole town had rejoiced at the new service being held regularly in the 
Church of St. Paul." 


lag in Todesbanden " ; for Whitsuntide, "Komm heiliger 
Geist, Herre Gott." For the New Year the Christmas 
hymns were repeated in the same places, and the New Year 
Hymns were sung also ; the Christmas hymns were also 
used for the feasts of the Epiphany and the Purification of 
the Virgin, but besides them the hymn "Was fiircht'st du, 
Feind Herodes, sehr " was sung at the former, and " Mit 
Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin " at the latter, but only for 
the Evening service. For the Annunciation it was ordered 
that the hymn before the Gospel should be " Herr Christ, der 
einig Gott's Sohn," and that half-way through the sermon 
" Nun freut euch lieben Christen g'mein." The same 
hymn was sung on Ascension Day, before the Gospel. The 
one between the sections of the sermon being " Christ fuhr 
gen Himmel." On Trinity Sunday, before the Gospel, 
" Gott der Vater wohn uns bei " was sung, and on St. John's 
Day in the same place " Christ unser Herr zum Jordan 
kam." On Michaelmas Day, the hymn " Herr Gott dich 
loben alle wir " was indispensable. The festival of the 
Reformation was characterised by the hymn before the 
Gospel, " O Herre Gott dein gottlich Wort," and the sermon 
hymn " Erhalt uns Herr bei deinem Wort," besides the 
fact, which has been already mentioned, that the Te Deum 
was followed by the hymn " Nun danket alle Gott." For 
Palm Sunday, as ushering in the Passion Week, the hymn 
before the Gospel was " Aus tiefer Noth schrei ich zu dir," 
and for Maunday Thursday it was " Jesus Christus unser 
Heiland." On Good Friday, in the Morning service, the 
Passion music was preceded by the hymn " Da Jesus an 
dem Kreuze stund," and followed by "O Traurigkeit! o 
Herzeleid ! " The hymn " O Lamm Gottes unschuldig" being 
sung between the sermon and the Communion. The hymns 
for the Evening service, which in the form used in Bach's 
time has a special interest for us, have already been described 
in connection with the general features of that service. 145 

145 The following sources have been used, besides those already mentioned in 
the above description of the order of the Leipzig services : " Leipziger Kirchen- 
Staat, &c., Leipzig, 1710. Neo-Annalium Lipsiensium Continuation., &c., C. E. 
Sicul," and edition, 1719, p. 565 ff. Bruno Bruckner, Betrachtungen iiber die 
Agende der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche. I. Leipzig, Edelmann. 1864. 4. 


There was no general hymn-book in use in the Leipzig 
churches, nor was there any great necessity for one. The 
hymn-book of Vopelius was in use, but seems chiefly to 
have been used only for general purposes of reference. 146 
Gesner wished every scholar to be in possession of a Dresden 
hymn-book and always to bring it into church ; this was to 
be looked after by the Cantor and the Conrector, as the 
inspectors of their conduct in church. 147 This must have 
been the " Neuauffgelegte Dressdnische Gesang-Buch, Oder 
Gottgeheiligte Kirchen- und Hauss-Andachten " "The 
newly-compiled Dresden Hymn-book, or Sacred Devotions 
for public and private use " ; it was provided with tunes and 
appeared in a quarto form at Dresden and Leipzig in the 
year I707. 148 In the Church of St. George's Orphanage, 
the hymn-book printed by Johann Montag in Halle was 
used. 149 A hymn book expressly for Leipzig use was pub- 
lished in octavo by C. G. Hofman in 1747 ; the arrangement 
was copied from that of Vopelius, but the tunes were 
omitted. This handy volume, however, appears not to 
have been much to the taste of the Leipzig church-goers, 
for, five year afterwards, Hofman had his hymn-book brought 
out in quarto. Bach himself made use of the rich 
collection of hymns made by Paul Wagner, and published 
after his death by Magister Johann Giinther, Deacon of 
St. Nicholas, in the year 1697, at Leipzig, in eight 
octavo volumes under the title of " Andachtiger Seelen 
geistliches Brand- und Gantz-Opfer" "The whole spiritual 
burnt-offering of devout souls." 150 

The custom, which was becoming more and more general, 
of accompanying the congregational singing throughout on 

146 A copy of this was procured in 1722 for the scholars in the Neue Kirche ; 
vide the accounts of the Neue Kirche from Candlemas, 1722 to 1723, p. 34. 

147 See ante, p. 232. 

148 The first edition appeared in 1694. In 1741, a Dresden Hymn-book was 
published in octavo. 

149 Apparently " Glaubiger Christen Himmel-aufsteigende Hetzens- und 
Seelen-Music," a Halle hymn-book in octavo, of which the fifth edition 
appeared in 1710. Sicul, loc. cit. , p. 572, says, that as all were accustomed to 
one hymn-book the practice arose of inscribing only the numbers of the hymns 
on black boards. 

140 See the inventory of Bach's effects given in Appendix B., XIV. 


the organ, had not yet come into use at Leipzig. In times 
of national mourning, on days of penitence and fasting, the 
partial or entire cessation of the organ had the effect of 
intensifying the gloom of the services. Even on festal and 
ordinary Sundays the "sermon" hymn at least was always 
sung without accompaniment. 151 The variety thus produced 
gave greater richness and colour to the services. The 
same object is apparent in the combination of the organ 
and the choir singing. In the early service in the Nikolai- 
Kirche, the choristers sang the Te Deum in such a manner 
that they alternated with the organ at every verse. From 
this it may be gathered that, as a rule, the choral dialogue 
between the priest and the choir was without accompaniment. 
But on this point practical considerations had due weight 
and no universal rule prevailed in any of the churches. 
For instance, in the Litany the organ was constantly 
employed in the churches of Saxony in order to prevent 
the choir falling from the original pitch. 152 In part-music 
the a cappella style was falling more and more into disuse. 
In 1717 Mattheson said, with regard to his quarrel with 
Buttstedt : " Where are the vocalists who used to sing 
without instruments, even without a bass, whether of clavier 
or organ ? (the trios which occur in the middle of the piece 
are differently constituted). Where are the singers, I ask, 
who can sing a whole aria without accompaniment and can 
keep in tune ? My opponent probably preferred the 
ordinary style, for I know no example of such singers 
elsewhere." 153 And in agreement with this is what we learn 
from Bach's pupil Kirnberger, whose testimony as to the 
Leipzig order of services is of especial importance. " Per- 
formances of church-music, even when sung in four, eight, 
or more parts without instruments, were always accompanied 

161 For the feast of the Reformation in the years 1755 and 1757, this custom 
was broken through. Vide " .dClM die Feyer des Reformations-Festes betr. 
Superintendur Leipzig, 1755." 

152 Gerber, Historic der Kirchen-Ceremonien, p. 230. Ephoralarchiv at 
Leipzig. Scheibe (Critischer Musikus, p. 421) speaks of an arrangement 
whereby, in the responses, the priest sings alone and the choir with organ 

143 Mattheson, Das beschiitzte Orchestre. Hamburg, 1717, p. 83. 


on the organ, which served to support and to keep up the 
pitch of the voices ; or, at least, the manual was employed 
when a performance of music for the Passion or some other 
occasion was sung below in the church, for which double 
basses were used according to the number of the singers. 
Another arrangement was to accompany each voice part with 
trumpets and cornets, 154 but never without due reference to the 
employment of at least one organ manual." 155 The custom of 
combining instruments with the voices in the motett became 
usual at the beginning of the seventeenth century, when the 
pure form of the motett began to degenerate and to borrow 
from other forms. 156 Although in this way it approached 
very near to the usual form of concerted music, yet there 
was this essential difference, that the accompanying instru- 
ments were never allowed to play obbligato ; 157 an exception 
was occasionally allowed in the case of the instrumental 
bass. So thoroughly did this kind of accompaniment become 
understood as essentially part of the idea of the motett, in 
the eighteenth century, that choral music with organ accom- 
paniment used to be called simply " mere vocal music " 
(blosse Vocalmusik), or " A cappella-Musik." 158 Mattheson's 
statement probably goes too far, but is not very exact. The 
Thomasschule scholars, who never practised without the 
support of a string-bass, took with them, whenever they 
had to sing out of doors beyond their usual circuit of 
streets, a Regal belonging to the school. 159 That the 

1M " In former times the music was usually accompanied with cornets and 
trumpets, and this was particularly the case in motetts." Ruetz, Widerlegte 
Vorurtheile von der Beschaffenheit der heutigen Kirchenmusik. Liibeck, 1752, 
p. 27. 

144 Kirnberger, Grundsatze des Generalbasses. Berlin, 1781, p. 64. 

188 Compare Vol. I., p. 55. 

167 Scheibe, Critischer Musikus, p. 182. 

158 Ch. G. Thomas, of Leipzig, in the programme of a church concert 
arranged by him on the igth of May, 1790, in Berlin, calls the fifth number 
" Den 149 Psalm, fur zwey Chore, blosse Vokalmusik,'' but adds afterwards 
that the organ was to accompany. Zelter calls the opening chorus of Bach's 
Cantata " Sehet welch eine Liebe"(B.-G., XVI., No. 64, P. No. 1652), "acapella 
gearbeitet " written in the a capella style ; see his catalogue of the Amalien- 
bibliothek in the Joachimsthal Gymnasium in Berlin. 

iw Vide App. B. IV., B. 


custom of accompanying the motetts with cornets and 
trombones, which was such a favourite one in the seven- 
teenth century, had not yet been given up in Leipzig, is 
shown not only by different original compositions by Bach, 
but also by accompaniments to a Mass by Palestrina written 
with his own hand for cornets, trombones, and organ. An 
attentive consideration of the order of the services shows 
that it was the general rule here to accompany the motetts 
on the organ. On Good Friday morning, when the organ 
was entirely silent, the motett was also excluded, both 
before the sermon and in the Communion service; and in 
the evening when, on account of the Passion music the 
organ had to be used again, the motett was also there ; 
and the same plan was followed on Palm Sunday and 
Maunday Thursday. 160 On ordinary Sundays the motett 
was preceded by a prelude on the organ, which would have 
been quite senseless if the motett itself were unaccompanied. 
On festivals the prelude came between the hymn and the 
motett, so that the former must have been without accom- 
paniments and the latter with it. In all this the motive 
is clearly to employ the musical means which were usual in 
the service in alternation and contrast, and so to make even 
this a kind of work of art. It must be remembered, too, that 
it was usual to strengthen the voice parts with stringed 
instruments playing the same notes. 161 

The organs of the two principal churches, which, it is true, 
Bach in his capacity of Cantor was not required to play 
upon, answered only to the most limited expectations, for 
they were old and worn out. There were two in the Thomas- 
kirche. The larger had been put there in the year 1525, 
having previously been in the Marienkirche of the Monks of 
St. Anthony at Eiche, not far from Leipzig. It was twice 
repaired in the seventeenth century, and in 1670 was also en- 
larged. In the year 1721, however, it was again renovated, 
as has been already said. The work, which consisted not 
only of a thorough improvement but also of the addition of 

180 Sicul, op. cit., p. 569, says, in general terms that when the organ was 
not played the motett was also omitted. 
101 Vide Vol. I., p. 61. 


400 new pipes ana the mixture stops, 162 was done under the 
direction of Johann Scheibe, the cleverest Leipzig organ 
builder of the time, who moreover was highly appreciated by 
no less strict a judge than Bach himself. 168 Although, during 
the time of Bach's holding office, the organ builders, David 
Apitzsch and Zacharias Hildebrand were still employed to 
keep the organ in repair, it was Scheibe who had charge 
of the principal improvements which were necessary 
during this period. The first of these was in 1730, and 
consisted in making the Riickpositiv separate from and inde- 
pendent of the Hauptwerk and providing it with a keyboard 
of its own. 164 The second was in the summer of 1747 when 
the organ had got so much out of order that it was hardly 
possible to use it at all. Bach and Gorner together super- 
intended the repairs, the cost of which was estimated at 200 
thalers, and pronounced that Scheibe had done them all suitably 
and well. 165 The specification of the organ was as follows : 

Oberwerk. Brustwerk. 

r. Principal 16 ft. i. Grobgedackt - - - 8ft. 

2. Principal 8 ,, 2. Principal - - - - 4 

3. Quintaton (dble. diap.) 16 ,, 3. Nachthorn- - - - 4 ,, 

4. Octave 4 ,, 4. Nasat 3 

5. Quinte 3 ,, 5. Gemshorn - - - - 2 

6. Superoctave - - - 2 ,, 6. Cymbel 2 ranks 

7. Spiel-Pfeife - - - - 8 ,, 7. Sesquialtera 

8. Sesquialtera - - doubled 3. Regal 8 ft. 

9. Mixture of 6, 8 to 10 ranks. 9. Geigenregal - - - 4 


1. Principal - - - - 8 ft. 8. Mixtur 4 ranks 

2. QuintatSn - - - - 8 ,, 9. Sesquialtera 166 

3. Leiblich Gedackt - 8 ,, 10. Spitzflote - - - - 4 ft. 

4. Klein Gedackt - - 4 n. Schallflote - - - - i 

5. Querflote (Fto. traverse) 4 12. Krummhorn(Cremona)i6 

6. Violine 2 13. Trompete - - - - 8 

7. Rauschquinte - doubled 

162 Accounts of the Thomaskirche from Candlemas 1721 to Candlemas 1722. 

168 A detailed account of various of Scheibe's ingenious inventions in the 
mechanism of organ building is to be found in the Leipzig " Neue Zeitung von 
gelehrten Sachen," XVIII., p. 833 f. Scheibe died September 3, 1748. 

1M Vide App. A., No. 15. 

166 Accounts of the Thomaskirche for 1747-1748, p. 52. According to this 
Bach and Gorner were the makers of the contract, which still exists and is given 
in App. B,, VIII. 16 On this stop see App. A., No. 15. 



1. Sub-bass of metal - 16 ft. 

2. Posaune - - - 16 h.\ 

3. Trompete - - - 8 ,, [ of metal pipes tinned 

4. Schalmei - - - 4 f over. 

5. Cornet - - - - 3 J 

The organ stood close to the west wall of the church. In 
1773 it was first moved into a better position and brought 
farther forward, by which process the Riickpositiv got shifted 
out of its proper place. The organ loft in which the choir 
stood had a different form in Bach's time from that which 
it has now. It was very much smaller, and besides that the 
seats for the Thomasschule scholars were in it. Hiller 
turned them out and put the trumpeter and the drummer in 
instead. 167 But even with this arrangement the space was 
not sufficient after a time, and so, in the year 1802, at the 
instance of the Cantor Miiller the organ loft was altogether 
rebuilt, being heightened and provided with an ornamental 
railing to the balustrade. Another enlargement was made 
in the year 1823. The smaller of the two organs in the 
Thomaskirche was the older, having been built in 1489. 
When the larger organ was put into the church the smaller 
one was just beside it by the west wall. But it did not stay 
there long. In 1638 the gallery which still exists was built 
over the raised choir, and the small organ was placed in it, 
so that it stood opposite the large one. At Easter, 1639, 
after being repaired, it was played in this place for the first 
time, and it stood there until Bach's time. 168 In 1727 it was 
once more put in order by Zacharias Hildebrand; 169 but it 
was of very little use, and in 1740 Scheibe had to take it 
quite away. Such parts of it as were still available he 
used in building the organ in St. John's church, which 
he constructed in 1742-1744, to the entire satisfaction 
of the overseers Bach and Hildebrand. 170 This is the 
specification of the small organ : 

167 Manuscript note by the Rector Rost on p. 35 of the school regulations of 
1723, in the copy kept in the Thomasschule library. 

lea Vogel, Leipziger Chronicke, loc. cit., and his Annales, p. 562. 

169 Accounts of the Thomaskirche, 1727-1728, p. 41. 

170 Accounts of the Johanniskirche from 1740-1744. Agricola, quoted in 
Adlung's Mus. Mechan., p. 251. 



1. Principal - - - - 8 ft. 5. Rauschquinte, 3 and 2 feet. 11 ' 

2. Gedackt 8 6. Mixtur, of 4, 5, 6, 8 and 10 

3. Quintaton - - - - 8 ranks. 

4. Octave 4 7. Cymbel 2 ranks. 


1. Trichter- Regal 8 ft. 

2. Sifflbte - - - i 

3. Spitzflote - - 2 


1. Principal - - - - 4 ft. 5. Octave a ft. 

2. Lieblich Gedackt - 8 ,, 6. Sesquialtera - - doubled 

3. Hohlflbte - - - - 4 7. Dulciana - - - - 8 ft. 

4. Nasat 3 ,, 8. Trompete - - - - 8 


1. Sub-bass of wood 16 ft. 

2. Fagott - - - 16 ,, 

3. Trompete - - 8,, m 

The organ was only used on the high festivals. It was 
not unusual, where there were two organs, to employ them 
for double chorus motetts or arias, in such a manner as that 
each choir had its own organ accompaniment, in which case 
it was necessary to separate the two choirs by a wider 
space than usual. In Wismar at the beginning of the 
i8th century, Keimann's hymn, set to a melody by Hammer- 
schmidt, " Freuet euch, ihr Christen alle," 178 was sung in this 
way at Christmas. The introductory Hallelujah was given 
out by the whole choir with accompaniment of cornets and 
trombones. Then the beginning of each verse was sung 
by a single voice supported by one organ, and answered by 
one of the full choirs accompanied on the other organ, to 
the words, " Freude, Freude iiber Freude," all joining 

171 I.e., a Quinte of 3 feet and an Octave of 2 feet. 

"* When Scheibe broke up the organ several stops were taken away namely, 
the Dulciana in the Riickpositiv organ and the Fagott and Sub-bass on the 
Pedal. Several ranks were also removed from the Mixture and Sesquialtera. 
The Lieblich Gedackt is now named " Grobgedackt," and the Trichter 
Regal " Ranquet." Rathsacten, book IX., A. 2, Vol. I., fol. 96. 

i" It is given by Winterfeld, in his Evang. Kirchenges. II., Musical examples, 

p. 102 ff. 


together in the final Hallelujah. 174 The distance, by no 
means an inconsiderable one, between the two organs, in the 
Thomaskirche, rendered it indeed a matter of difficulty to 
keep the choirs exactly together. Everything, however, 
was done to overcome the difficulty, and if ever any 
confusion occurred it would be compensated for by the 
devotional effect which would be produced by the floods 
of sound streaming together from different parts of the 
church. For the celebration of the Reformation Festival in 
1717, in the University Church, Kuhnau performed a 
festival work for three choirs, which were stationed in three 
different places in the church : one was put in the space in 
front of the newly built organ, and the other two in roomy 
pews by the side of the organ, and apparently behind the 
pulpit, where two loud sets of organ pipes were placed, and 
also instrumentalists. 175 In former times in the University 
church the very strange custom obtained of placing the 
singers at a great distance from the organ ; that being behind 
the pulpit, the position of the choir was opposite, close to the 
church wall by the altar. Notwithstanding this, music had 
been performed successfully, although Kuhnau and Vetter 
rejoiced at the new arrangement, because it would be easier 
to avoid those differences between the choir and the organ 
which we have alluded to. 176 

m Ruetz, Widerlegte Vorurtheile, &c., p. 86 f. Ruetz says that the full 
choir came in each time with the words " Freuet euch mit grossem Schalle." 
It is self-evident that this is a slip either of the pen or the memory, since the 
refrain does not begin with these words. Whether what he calls the single voice 
ought not to be really three, as is prescribed in the original, must be left 

178 Sicul. Die andere Beylage zu dem Leipziger Jahrbuche auf 1718, p. 73. 
In the year 1716 again Kuhnau had a Latin Ode set for three choirs performed 
in the same place; see Sicul, Beylage zu des Leipziger Jahrbuchs Dritten Probe, 
1717, p. ii ; compare p. 20. 

176 Archives of Leipzig University. Ch. G. Thomas, himself a Leipzig 
Musician, arranged, in 1790, a concert of compositions for three and four 
choirs in the garrison church at Berlin ; the first choir was in the gallery 
opposite the organ, the second in the organ loft, the third on the right, and 
the fourth on the left, in the middle of the gallery. In his account he states 
positively that the music went well together in spite of the distance. (Sammel- 
band der konigl. Bibliothek zu Berlin, Abtheilung Bibliotheca Dieziana. Quarto 



The Nikolaikirche contained an organ dating from the 
year 1597-1598. The last repairs before Bach's time had 
been done in 1692. It then consisted of the following 
stops : 






Mixtur - - 




Quinte - - 


Octave - - 




Schalmei - 


Principal - 


Mixtur - - 


Quinte - - 





Grobgedackt - - 






Quintaton - - - 





Nasat - - - - 





Waldflote - - - 




Fagott ---. 





Trompete - - - 








Octave - - - - 






Sesquialtera - - 















Quintaton - - - 






Octave - - - - 






Sesquialtera - - 






Mixtur - - 

4 ranks 




Bombart - - - 







Octave . - - . 






Gedackter Subbass 






Posaune - - - - 


l " 

1. Principal - - - 

2. Gedackt- - - 

3. Viola da Gamba - 

4. Gemshorn - - - 

5. Quinte .... 

1. Cornet - - - 

2. Schalmei - - 

3. Trompete - - 

In 1725 the organ was renewed by Scheibe. The improve- 
ments were very thorough and cost 600 thalers. 178 It is 
unfortunately impossible to know what alterations were 
made with respect to the disposition of the stops. In this 
state it remained till the year of Bach's death, when it 
was again repaired by Zacharias Hildebrand. 

In both the Thomaskirche and the Nikolaikirche the 
organs were tuned to " chorus " pitch. This was then the 
usual pitch in Leipzig as well as in other places. The organ 
in the New Church was in the same pitch. 179 

177 Vogel, Leipziger Chronicke, p. 97. 

171 Accounts of the Nikolaikirche from Candlemas 1724 1725, p. 49, and for 
1725 1726, p. 53. The contract was concluded on Dec. ii, 1724, and the 
whole work finished on Dec. 22, 1725. 

See App. A., No. 16. 



In contrast to these old organs, which were of only 
moderate capacity, and liable to get out of order frequently, 
there had been in the University church since Nov. 4, 1716, 
an organ which fulfilled the highest expectations, and 
which Bach must have chiefly employed when he played 
for his own pleasure or before other people. On this account 
it is of particular interest to become acquainted with its 



Great Principal (of 

8. Quinte .... 


pure tin) - - - 16 ft. 

9. Quint-Nasat - - 

3 II 


Great Quintaton - 16 

10. Octavina - - - 



Small Principal - 8 


u. Waldflote - - - 



Schalmei ... 8 


12. Great Mixtur - 

5 & 6 ranks 


Flute allemande - 8 


13. Cornetti - - - - 

3 ranks 


Gemshorn- ... 8 


14. Zink (cornet) - - 



Octave .... 4 



Principal, of pure tin 

5. Rohrflote - - 

- 4 ft- 

(in front) ... 


6. Octave - - - 

- 2 


Viola di Gamba natu- 

7. Nasat - - - 

3 ,. 


8. Sedecima- - - 

- I 1, 


Grobgedackt with a 

9. Schweizer Pfeife 

- I ,, 

wide mouthpiece - 


10. Largo - - - 



4 II 

ii. Mixtur ... 

- 3 ranks 

12. Helle Cymbel - 

- 2 



Lieblich Gedackt 


- 2 ft. 


Quintaton .... 


8. Vigesima nona 

ij ,. 


Flute douce - - 

4 it 

9. Weitpfeife - - 

- i ., 


Quinta Decima - 

4 i 

10. Mixtur - - . 

3 ranks 


Decima nona - - 

3 ii 

ii. Helle Cymbel - 



Hohlflote .... 


12. Sertin ... 

- 8 ft. 182 


Six stops, which by a new and special invention were brought into 
connection with the great bellows of the manuals : 

180 Scheibe distinguishes between the real and the so-called Viola di gamba ; 
the former had a narrower mouthpiece. In 1722 he turned a so-called Viola 
di Gamba in the organ in the New Church into a real one, with great success. 

181 The number of feet is not given. 

182 What kind of stop this may have been, or whether it may not be a 
mistake or misprint for Serpent, I cannot say. 



Octave - 
Quinte - 
Mixtur - 


4 ft. 


5 & 6 ranks 

4 ft. 



4 ranks 

1. Great Principal of pure tin 

(in front) - - - - 16 ft. 

2. Great Quintaton - - - 16 

3. Octave 8 

These stops on the small Brust-Pedal bellows : 

7. Great (clear) Quintenbass 9. Nachthorn- 

(in front) 6 ft. 10. Octave - - 

8. Jubal 8 ,, 183 

And these on the great bellows on both sides : 
n. Great Principal of pure 14. Trompete - 

tin (in front) - - - 16 ft. 15. Hohlflote - 

Sub-bass 16 ,, 16. Mixtur 

Posaune 16 

Extra Stops (Couplers, &c.). 
'to the Hauptwerk 
to the Brustwerk 
to the Side Basses 
to the Brust and Manual 184 
to the Stern 
to the Hinterwerk 
A Bell to call the blower. 1 " 

As has been before mentioned, 186 the honourable task of 
trying this organ after its completion, which must have been 
superintended by Vetter, was entrusted to Bach. Just at 
that time he had come from Weimar and had taken up his 
abode in Cbthen. He laid his opinion before the University, 
which we subjoin : 187 

" Since at the desire of his excellency Herr Dr. Rechenberg, at 
present chief Rector of the honourable Academy at Leipzig, I was 
charged with the examination of the organ in the Pauliner Kirche, 
which has been partly renewed and partly repaired ; I have fulfilled the 
task according to my power, have remarked any defects, and have 
prepared the following statement with regard to the whole work : 

Ventils H 

188 An octave stop. See Adlung, Musica mechanica, p. 107. 

m Sic. The meaning must be that there was a Ventil between the Pedal 
and Manual of the Brustwerk. 

188 Sammlung einiger Nachrichten von beriihmten Orgel Wercken in 
Teutschland mit vieler Miihe aufgesetzt von einem Liebhaber der Musik. 
Bresslau, 1757, 4, p. 54. 

186 See ante, p. 9. 

187 Archive of the Leipzig University "ACTA. Den Orgel- und andern 
Bau, ingl. Verschreibung der Capellen, Verlosung der Stiihle und was dem 
mehr anhangig, in der Pauliner Kirche betr. De ao. 1710. Volum. III." 

Repert. ~ No. 5. Litt. B. Sect. II., Fol. 6364. 


1. Touching the whole structure, it cannot be disguised that it is 
in a very contracted space, so that it is a matter of difficulty to get at 
such parts of it as may at any time require to be repaired ; this must be 
Herr Scheibe's excuse, because he was not the original maker of the 
organ, but found the case ready-made to his hand, and had to adapt 
himself to it as best he could ; besides that the extra space which he 
required in order to make the structure more commodious was not granted 
to him. 

2. The ordinary constituent parts of an organ, as the wind trunks, the 
bellows, the pipes, the sounding boards, and the other parts, have been 
repaired with great skill, and it need only be remarked that the wind 
must be caused to come more equally so that the unequal blows of the 
wind may be avoided ; the sound boards ought to have been encased in 
frames to avoid all noises of wind in bad weather, but Herr Scheibe 
according to a method of his own, made them with panels, assuring us 
at the same time that the effect would be the same as that produced 
elsewhere by frames, and in consequence of this explanation it was let 

3. The parts included both in the description and in all the contracts 
are right both in quality and quantity, with the exception of two reed 
stops namely, the Schallmey, 4 ft., and the Cornet, 2 ft. which may 
have been omitted by an order from the honourable College, but in their 
stead a 2 ft. Octave has been introduced into the Brustwerk, and a 
2 ft. Hohlflote into the Hinterwerk. 

4. The defects which still remain, such as inequality of intonation, must 
and can be done away with immediately by the organ builder ; in par- 
ticular, the lowest pipes in the Posaune and the bass Trompete should 
not speak so roughly and harshly, but should begin with and retain a 
pure and firm tone ; besides this the other pipes which are unequal in 
tone, must be carefully corrected and equalised, which by means of 
frequent and thorough tuning of the whole instrument, and also in better 
weather than there has been of late, it will be quite easy to do. 

5. The management of the organ ought indeed to be somewhat easier, 
and the keys ought not to have so great a fall, but this indeed cannot be 
otherwise, because of the excessive narrowness of the structure, so that 
it must perforce be left; yet notwithstanding it is still possible to play 
in such a manner that there need be no fear of coming to a sudden stop. 

6. As the organ builder had to make a new wind trunk to the Brust- 
werk over and above what had been contracted for, and as the old wind 
trunk which was to have been used instead of a new one possessed in 
the first place a Fundament Brete (Qy. a fixed board supporting the 
wind trunk?) in itself incorrect and objectionable; and secondly, as 
the manual had the short compass peculiar to the old style so that 
there was no possibility of adding the keys which were requisite in 
order to bring the three manuals to an equality, had the old one been 



employed a dcformite would have been caused ; it was, therefore, highly 
necessary to substitute a new one for it, so as to avoid the defects 
which were dreaded by the maker, and to preserve a satisfactory con- 
formity. I consider, therefore, that the organ maker is entitled to the 
value of those parts which have been renewed over and above the 
terms of the contract, and that he ought to be indemnified. 

Seeing that the organ builder has requested me to represent to the 
honourable College that, as certain parts were not allowed him, as, for 
instance, the ornamental woodwork, the gilding, and the other orna- 
mentation which Herr Vetter had to superintend, these and whatever 
else may be necessary may be allowed for in payment, and that he be 
not held liable for them, since it is not the custom elsewhere to hold the 
builder liable for such things and had it been the custom he would 
have made better terms he begs humbly that he may be brought into 
no extra expenses on this account. 

And finally it must not be left unmentioned (i) that the window 
behind the organ should be protected as far as to the top of the organ 
on the inside by a small wall, or a strong iron plate, so as to prevent 
any possible damage by weather; and (2) that it is customary, and in 
this case most necessary, for the organ builder to give a guarantee 
for one year at least to repair thoroughly any defects that may arise, 
which he moreover is perfectly willing to undertake to do, if his 
requests with regard to his expenses over and above the contract be 
granted speedily and completely. 

This then is all that I have found necessary to remark upon in my 
examination of the organ, and recommending myself in all possible 
services to his most noble excellency, Herr D. Rechenberg, and to all 
the honourable College, 

I remain, 
Your most humble and devoted servant, 

Hochfurstlich Anhalt Cothenische Capell Meister." 188 

Leipzig, Dec. 17, 1717. 

When Scheibe undertook the work in 1710, Kuhnau and 
Vetter had no great opinion of his skill, but took note of him 
as an honest, cheap, and industrious workman; thus it was 
all the more praiseworthy that his completed work should 
come so well through a trial of so thorough and practical a 
kind. The organist who had the charge and care of the great 
instrument after Gorner's departure was Johann Christoph 
Thiele, a man of whose artistic attainments nothing is 
known beyond this fact. 

118 Throughout in Bach's own hand. The address is wanting. 


With the preludes and postludes which were then usual, 
the organ became an independent constituent part of the 
service. The technical expression for all such "voluntaries," 
as we should now call them, was " preludes," without regard 
to the place in the service when the organ was played by 
itself. From this it is evident that the postlude at the 
close of the service was not customary in all churches. Its 
use was not so much practical or liturgical as general and 
artistic, whereas the prelude was chiefly and expressly in- 
tended to prepare the congregation for the hymns which they 
were to sing, and especially in the case of a less known 
melody to make them acquainted with it. With the ad- 
vancing development of the art of the organ, and with the 
growth of the chorale preludes into independent and organi- 
cally shaped compositions, the custom of playing a concluding 
voluntary, in which the organist could exercise his talent at 
will in free fantasias or fugues, became more and more 
general. In none of our sources of information is anything 
said with regard to " playing-out " in the Leipzig churches. 
From this it does not follow that it was not the custom ; 
indeed it may be inferred from the remarks of Johann Adolph 
Scheibe, that it was usual here. 189 With regard to the 
preludes, properly so-called, it was an universal rule to 
introduce the longest and most elaborate before the con- 
gregational hymn sung between the Epistle and the Gospel, 
and before the Communion hymns. 190 Here, again, the 
object was a practical one, for there was a greater freedom 
in the choice of these hymns, so that sometimes hymns with 
less known tunes were sung, whereas the other congregational 
hymns were always more or less the same. These preludes 
were, of course, formed upon the melody of the hymn that 
was to follow. The organ prelude which, as a rule, preceded 

189 He was born in Leipzig and worked for some time in his native town. 
Critischer Musikus, p. 428. On the other hand, Petri, in his " Anleitung 
zur Praktischen Musik," Leipzig, 1782, p. 297, says that the playing of a 
concluding voluntary only became " customary in several towns " at the 
end of the eighteenth century. 

190 p e tri, op. cit., p. 299. Turk, von den wichtigsten Pflichten eines Organ 
isten. Halle, 1787. P. 121 f. 

U 2 


any concerted church music, had a character of its own. 
Its practical purpose was to enable the instrumentalists to 
tune without disturbing the devotions of the congregation. 
For this reason the organist was not allowed to play in a 
strict style, but had to keep to a free fantasia style, and also 
to remain chiefly and for the longest time in those keys 
which corresponded to the tuning notes of the various 
instruments. When the instruments were tuned the 
conductor gave a sign for the organist to stop playing; in 
addition to this, his prelude had to prepare the way for the 
composition that was to follow, and also to have a kind of 
finish and roundness of its own. Thus the organist had no 
easy task if he was minded to make his prelude according 
to the rules. This, however, was by no means the case, 
owing to the roughness and carelessness of so many of the 
performances of church music, and on most occasions all 
that was heard was a confused and ugly medley of sound. 191 
During the music itself the organist had to play the basso 
continue from a figured bass part, above which, in the case 
of recitatives, the vocal part was sometimes indicated. 192 
The organ in this case took the part which in chamber music 
was taken by the harpsichord. 193 Since concerted music 
in churches had come into general use, this accompaniment 
became one of the regular duties of the organist, and that 
Bach viewed the matter in this light is clear from his report 
of the circumstance of his dispute with the University, in 
which he says that the organist had not only to accompany 
the music before and after the sermon, but also to play all 
the hymns until the very last. Occasionally, and in an 

191 Voigt, Gesprach von der Musik zwischen einem Organisten und Ad- 
juvanten, p. 92 f. Adlung, p. 731. Orders from the Council for preventing the 
disorder and confusion of this prelude are given by Petri, p. 176 ff., and Turk, 
p. 136 if. 

191 Voigt, loc. cit., p. 27, says, however, that no cantor would take the trouble 
to write out the voice part ; but it occurs in Bach occasionally, for instance, 
in the cantata " Christus der ist mein Leben," B.-G., XXII., No. 95. See also 
App. A., No. 17. 

193 In Voigt, op. cit., p. 107, the Assistant says " I thought that it must b 
much harder to play in church than in a musical college, and that the mistakes 
would be much more noticed on the organ than on a harpsichord." 


exceptional way, he may have handed over to some one else 
the task of accompanying from the figured bass, especially 
when Gorner was officiating, since his discourses satisfied 
him but little. His manner of accompanying has been 
already spoken of at length. 194 It would be sufficient only 
to allude to it here, were it not that a document hitherto 
unknown has lately been discovered which places the circum- 
stances in a still clearer light, and the importance of the 
subject justifies our returning to it. Heinrich Nikolaus Gerber 
must have learnt the art of playing from figured bass from 
Bach, and have practised it on the violin sonatas of Albinoni; 
subsequently he handed down to his son (the author of the 
Lexicon) the method of accompanying which he had learnt 
from studying these sonatas with Bach. The son informs 
us that an especial feature was that no one part was ever 
more prominent than the other, and that this accompani- 
ment was of itself so beautiful, that no solo part could have 
added anything to the pleasure which it gave him. A 
specimen of an accompaniment of this kind by the elder 
Gerber still exists ; it is throughout written by himself, and 
contains autograph corrections by Bach. 195 The corrections 
are comparatively few in number, so that the teacher was 
apparently satisfied with the work ; still, having Bach's 
alterations, we are sure that this is such an accompaniment 
to a solo as he liked and approved. 

Its state, however, proves that Gerber's work was unsatis- 
factory and forced, and that Bach's famous method was 
certainly not polyphonic. The term " polyphonic," it is 

194 See ante, p. 102. 

195 I obtained this in the Spring of 1876 from the musical collection of 
Musikdirector Riihl of Frankfurt a. M. who had died shortly before. Riihl 
had got the MS. from the bequest of Hofrath Andre, and he from that of the 
younger Gerber. A note by the younger Gerber on the MS. runs thus: " Made 
by Heinrich Nic. Gerber, and corrected by Sebastian Bach." The solo part 
and the figures of the bass are wanting, as is also all information as to the 
work of Albinoni from which the sonata is taken. It is, however, the sixth 
of Albinoni's Trattenimenti Armonici per Camera divisi in dodici Sonate. 
Opera sesta, and thus can be completely restored ; it is given as Musical 
supplement VI. to this work. A copy of the Trattenimenti, printed by Walsh 
in London, was bought some time ago at my instance for the Royal Library in 
Berlin, by Herr Dr. Espagne. 


true, is capable of extension; but, when applied to Bach, 
a thematic and independent treatment of the parts 
is understood. Gerber's accompaniment, however, has no 
imitative use of motives, whether taken from the solo parts 
or freely invented. It is simple a flowing movement in 
several parts, in which we never for a moment lose the feel- 
ing that the motive power is external to itself. It is only in 
so far as an unconstrained progression of harmonies which 
never encounters any obstacle must of itself have a certain 
melodic effect that we can speak of melody at all in this ac- 
companiment, and this exactly suits the definition of a good 
accompaniment given by the younger Telemann: "a good 
flowing song (ein guter Gesang), i.e., a well-proportioned and 
pleasing succession of sounds." 196 Four out of the small 
number of Bach's corrections owe their existence to the 
desire for such " pleasing sequence " (Nos. I, 2, 9, and 10). 
Besides this we may observe that Bach even allows his 
pupil to pay no regard to the simple harmonies suggested 
by Albinoni, partly in order to make the harmonic motion 
more connected and flowing, and partly to make it more 
interesting. Accordingly we find a very independent 
treatment, only it has no melodic character, as we might 
suppose from the words of the younger Gerber ; the limits 
which divide homophony and polyphony, or, which here 
is the same thing, the chief from the tributary subject, have 
been defined with the most accurate taste. Only a passing 
allusion can here be made to other instructive features in 
this accompaniment : to the constancy of the four-part 
writing, which corresponds exactly to the definition which 
Kirnberger gives of the characteristics of Bach's accompani- 
ments ; to the way in which in the second and third move- 
ments the themes which begin without accompaniment are 
strengthened by the other parts in unison a method of 
treatment to be explained in the same way as the separate 
full chords in the three-part sonatas for violin and clavier. 197 
Now that we are in a position to determine the exact mean- 

196 Georg Michael Telemann, Unterricht im Geneialbass-Spielen, Hamburg, 

I 773, P- 17- 

197 See ante, p. 102. 


ing of Gerber's words, we can judge of the precise import of 
Mizler's statement, that Bach used to accompany any given 
solo with figured bass in such a manner that it sounded like 
a concerto, and as if the melody which he made in the 
right hand had been written down before-hand. Mizler 
himself in another place gives a key to the right under- 
standing of these words ; but hitherto there has been no 
such certain example from which we might learn the 
practical application of it. In an account of Werckmeister's 
method of playing from figured bass, he deduces from it the 
general statement that, for a pleasing treatment of harmonies 
in accompanying, something more must be necessary than 
merely avoiding fifths and octaves. This " something 
more," says Mizler, is melody; and by melody he under- 
stands such a variety in the succession of notes that they 
could be sung with ease and would be pleasant to 
listen to. But since in the best melodies we notice the 
fewest leaps, it follows that the figured bass player 
must make no unusual leaps if he wishes to preserve 
intact the melodic element. 198 Apparently his description 
of Bach's method of accompanying tends the same way 
as what we already know from Heinrich Nickolaus Gerber's 
MS., namely, to a smooth combination of harmonies, the 
result of which is the production of a kind of melody in 
the upper part. The fact of Bach's scholar laying such stress 
upon this individuality is quite explained if we consider how 
irregular and tasteless the generality of accompaniments on 
a figured bass was at that time. Lb'hlein, a well-known 
teacher of music in the eighteenth century, tells us that 
soloists, even violoncellists, did not care to be accom- 
panied on the clavier, but preferred a childish accompani- 
ment on a viola, or even a violin ; so that the bass part 
obtruded itself above the melody, and the effect was like 
a man standing on his head. 199 And even in the case of an 
accompaniment on the clavier or on the organ, many players 

198 Musikalische Bibliothek, Pt. II. Leipzig, 1737, p. 52. 

199 Georg Simon Lohlein, Clavierschule, &c., 4th edition. Leipzig, 1785, 
p. 114. 


were quite content to take the chords just as they happened 
to suit the fingers, without respect to their position or con- 

Still, what has been said above must not lead us into 
supposing that Bach altogether forbade his pupil on the 
organ the use of all figured bass accompaniment that was 
adorned by imitations. Even if no great weight be laid on 
the fact that Kuhnau, Heinichen, Mattheson, Schroter and 
other authorities of that time valued an imitative treatment 
confined within proper limits, and considered it the highest 
art of the accompanist, there are still other evidences to 
prove that in special cases Bach sometimes used polyphony 
in accompanying, and even if it were not so, we have the 
right to conclude it from what we know of his musical nature 
in general. Gerber's work, then, confirms the difference, 
which we have before pointed out, that a distinction exists 
between what Bach allowed in this respect and what he 
required. With regard to the last, no doubt can any longer be 
entertained now that we possess Kirnberger's accompaniment 
to a trio by Bach, and that of Gerber to a solo sonata by 
Albinoni. It will not diminish the knowledge and power of 
the composition last mentioned if we allow that such an 
accompaniment could not have been put to an original com- 
position by Bach, and that he would have required a very 
different sort of accompaniment for a work of his own. 
Every competent artist derives his standard from what he 
considers beautiful and fitting namely, his own works. If 
the polyphonic enrichment of a solo composition by means 
of a figured bass accompaniment had seemed to Bach 
desirable on all occasions, he would have insisted on his 
pupils employing that method in this case also, where a 
work of an exclusively educational purpose was concerned. 
This is all the more certain, because the simple breadth of 
harmonic structure in Albinoni's sonata was particularly 
well adapted for the reception of elaborate detail, and, 
however much regard he may have had to the simple style 
of the whole work, some traces of polyphony must have been 
noticeable. Thus, when Bach's figured bass player went 
beyond what was required of him, he did it on his own 


responsibility. If some clever piece of ingenuity attempted 
here and there succeeded, he produced a feeling of pleasant 
surprise in the ear of the connoisseur, but if he failed he 
ruined the whole, and drew down upon him the wrath of 
the conductor. Lohlein says in one place, " The artistic or 
adorned style of accompaniment, that namely, in which 
the right hand plays some sort of melody with ornamented 
agremens and imitations, is for those who have got beyond 
simple things; it demands great care and knowledge of 
composition. Herr Mattheson has given many examples of 
it in his Organistenprobe. Since, however, this kind of 
pretty decoration was found to spoil more than it improved, 
it has happily gone out of fashion." 200 This opinion 
meets the question very fairly ; the adorned accompani- 
ment was entirely a thing of musical fashion, as were also 
the agremens and manieren of the clavier player, or the 
fioriture of the singer. It is the same view of the question 
that Adlung brings forward when, after speaking of the 
accents, mordents, trills, &c., which a player from a figured 
bass had at his command, he adds : " But the best Manier 
is melody." 201 Like all fashions, this also serves as one of 
the characteristics of the time. 

Bach worked in a period of wide-spread and abundant 
musical creativeness. The fit presentment of a musical 
composition depends on the performance, which cannot 
possibly take place without the admixture of a certain 
subjective element, and this element generally took the 
form of arbitrary ornamentation of the written melodic 
phrases, even going so far as to distort their very shape 
by alterations. The composer submitted to this arrange- 
ment because the disfigurement his ideas might suffer was 
atoned for by the individual vitality with which a composition 
might be performed by a player capable of taking an inde- 
pendently creative share in the work. It is certain that 
Bach neither would nor could hold entirely aloof from this, 
an universal feature of the time in which he lived. But 

400 Luhlein, loc. cit. p. 76. 

801 Adlung, Anleitung zu der musikalischen Gelahrtheit, p. 653. 


in proportion to the individuality of an artist will be the 
care with which he will guard against the introduction of 
any foreign element into his creations. Of all the great 
musicians who appeared in this period, Bach is, without 
doubt, the most subjective, and stands the most apart from 
all others. He deserves the complaint made by Johann 
Adolph Scheibe, that " he indicated with actual notes all 
manieren, all the small ornaments, and everything that is 
understood by the word method in playing," 202 so that he 
effectually closed the door upon any approach to individu- 
ality on the part of the performers. What Scheibe says of 
Bach's vocal and instrumental works holds good also of his 
figured bass parts, which he used, unless hindered by 
circumstances, to figure in the most elaborate way. His 
minute care extended even to the ritornels and short 
ritornel-like passages, in which, as a general rule, the 
accompanist was left to follow his own instinct as to what 
was most suitable. Thus, in the terzet in the cantata "Aus 
tiefer Noth schrei ich zu dir," 208 he shows with the greatest 
exactness, by means of figuring, the counterpoint to be played 
in the right hand to the chief subject of the ritornel, which 
lies in the bass part. His pupil Agricola had a better 
appreciation of the case ; he approved the exactitude which 
Scheibe blames, for he holds it to be no fault in a composer 
if, in order to obviate disfigurement, he expresses his ideas 
with the greatest possible clearness. 204 Bach's careful fore- 
thought is fully accounted for when we read the laments of 
earnest musicians over certain vain and trivial organists 
who, in contrast to those who never add more than is 
absolutely requisite, take every opportunity of " shaking out 
their sackfull of ornaments all at once, in fanciful tricks 
and runs, and, when the singer has to execute a passage, 
think it necessary to vie with the singer in ornamenta- 
tion." 206 It is no less plain why the school of Bach always 
insists on using the polyphonic, or, indeed, any adorned style 

402 Scheibe, Critischer Musikus, p. 62. 

308 B.-G., VII., p. 296 ff. P. 1694. 

104 In the addenda to Tosi's Anleitung zur Singkunst, p. 74. 

m Kuhnau, Der Musicalische Qvack-Salber, 1700, p. 20 ff. 


of accompaniment, as little as possible, and only as an 
exception, 206 as Philipp Emanuel does, often discarding it 
entirely. Kirnberger held that as the accompanist from a 
figured bass had only to add the harmonies, he ought to 
refrain from all ornaments which were not essential, and 
always aim at simplicity. 207 Johann Samuel Petri, a friend 
and pupil of Friedemann Bach, who made a special study of 
the art of accompanying under this master, forbids the 
organ-player to introduce shakes, or to play any melody 
with the right hand; he requires him to keep to the chords 
intended by the composer, and lays it down as a general 
principle that the organ accompaniment serves only to fill up 
the harmony and to strengthen the bass. 208 The same thing 
is said by Christian Carl Rolle, the intimate friend of Bach's 
sons and pupils. 209 But other musicians too, besides those of 
Bach's own circle, shared this opinion, and expressed it in 
the most decisive way. Johann Adolph Scheibe, with his 
well-known acuteness of aesthetic judgment, condemns the 
polyphonic accompaniment of a solo as contrary to good 
taste, and destructive to the composer's intentions. 210 

The question of the manner of accompanying also includes 
the way of employing the sound-material offered by the 
organ. In this respect there were firmly-fixed traditions. 
The bass was as a rule played by the left hand alone, while 
the right took the complementary harmonies. When an organ 
with several manuals was used, the left hand usually played 
on an independent manual with powerful stops. The pedal 
generally played the bass also, and then the left hand could 

206 Versuch iiber die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen. Pt. II., pp. 219 f 
and 241. 

207 In Sulzer's Allgemeine Theorie der schonen Kiinste, Second edition, 
Pt. I., p. 194. On Kirnberger's share in this work, see Gerber's Lexicon IV., 
col. 304 f. 

208 Anleitung zur praktischen Musik, p. 169 ff. Petri tells of his connection 
with Friedemann Bach in this very work, which is one of the best educational 
works on music of the eighteenth century, pp. 101, 269 (see also 268) and 285. 

209 Neue Wahrnehmungen zur Aufnahine und weitern Ausbreitung der 
Musik. Berlin, 1784, p. 49. 

210 Critischer Musikus, p. 416. 


help to bring out the inner parts. 211 When the bass was 
strongly orchestrated it was considered sufficient to mark 
only the essential points in the harmonic progressions by 
short notes on the pedals. 212 In such cases, however, 
it was not unusual to leave the bass out altogether in 
order to avoid confusion, since it was generally taken by 
other instruments. 213 In the case of slightly instrumented 
works, some composers only used this accompaniment in 
the ritornels. 214 For accompanying arias and recitatives the 
eight-foot Gedackt was generally used alone, and from this 
circumstance got the name " Musikgedackt." 216 In the case 
of "recitativo secco," even when the bass notes were directed 
to be held, the chords on the organ, which used to be played 
arpeggio as on the harpsichord, were, as a rule, not held long, 
in order to give due prominence to the words sung. 216 Petri, 
however, holds that when there is a very soft stopped-flute, 
the chords may be held in the tenor register and that then 
each change of the harmony is to be indicated by a short pedal 
note. In order to give support to the singer, the organist 
was sometimes to hold out the bass note alone, and take off 
the rest of the chord quite short. Greater freedom was 
permitted in the case of accompanied recitative ; he might 
either play both the chord and the bass together, or the 
latter alone, as it seemed good to him. 217 

811 Adlung, p. 657. "At one time much attention was paid to divided play- 
ing, that is, when some of the inner parts were played by the left hand. It is 
also quite possible, if the notes can be given out on the pedals, for both hands 
to remain on one manual. But in the case of rapid basses, this arrangement 
fails, because such are best played on two manuals." Petri, p. 170. 

818 Rolle, p. 51. "The management of the pedals is attended with unusual 
difficulties, such as that of always knowing which are the right notes to play 
and which may be left out with impunity for the sake of rapidity." Schroter, 
Deutliche Anweisung zum General-Bass, Halberstadt, 1772, p. 188, 348. 
Turk, p. 153. The same holds good, as a rule, for the double-bass also; see 
Quantz, Versuch, &c., p. 221, . 7. 

818 Turk, p. 156. 2U Petri, p. 170. 

316 Scheibe, Critischer Musikus, p. 415. Adlung, p. 386. Rolle, p. 50. 
Compare Gerber, Historic der Kirchen-Ceremonien, p. 280. 

819 (Voigt), Gesprach, &c., p. 29. Petri, p. 171, compare p. 311. Turk, 
p. 162 ff. 

817 Schroter, p. 186, 344. Turk, p. 174. 


It should be noticed that the staccato style of playing, 
now universally considered unsuited to the nature of the 
organ, was not considered so by the musicians of that time. 
The formation of fugue themes from reiterated notes, and 
the repetition of full chords served, in the opinion of organ 
masters of the Northern school, to produce a peculiarly 
charming effect Christoph Gottlieb Schroter of Nordhausen, 
one of the most perfect organists of his time, always played 
staccato. By this method, indeed, he provoked the opposi- 
tion of the scholars of Bach, who followed the example of 
their master in considering the sostenuto style as the finer, 218 
and to their influence is to be ascribed the fact that the other 
style of playing gradually died out. But it was only for 
independent organ pieces that they insisted so definitely on 
the sostenuto style. For accompanying, the "lifted" style 
remained in use even within the circle of Bach's scholars. 
Kittel, who during a period of fifteen years' activity as a 
teacher spread Bach's systems among the organists of 
Thuringia, inculcated this method, and persons are still 
living who heard one of his best pupils, Michael Gotthardt 
Fischer of Erfurt, accompany the Church cantatas in this 
manner : he followed the harmonic course of the movement 
with short chords in the right hand while he played the 
bass legato, and with considerable power. 219 This agrees 
with Petri's direction, that the organist is to accom- 
pany in as short a style as possible and to withdraw the 
fingers from the keys directly after striking the chord. 220 
From this it must on no account be concluded that Bach 
always accompanied in this way and in no other. As the 
style of his compositions was more sostenuto than that 
of Kittel's and Petri's time, he distinctly requires in the 
majority of cases a legato accompaniment, and what he 
directs to be accompanied in a "melodic" manner can 
generally be performed correctly in no other way. It must 
be remembered, however, that he was equally at home in 

918 Gerber, Lex. II., col. 455. 

219 It was heard by Herr Professor Edward Grell of Berlin, who was so kind 
as to narrate the circumstance to me by word of mouth. 
430 Petri, p. 170. 


the other style, and employed it upon occasion; examples 
are offered in the A major aria in the cantata " Freue dich, 
erloste Schaar," and the G major aria in the cantata "Am 
Abend aber desselbigen Sabbaths." 221 In general all customs 
of this kind depend more or less upon the circumstances of 
the time. The original manuscripts of Bach's Matthew 
Passion, and his cantatas "Was frag ich nach der Welt," 
"In alien meinen Thaten," shows that he also permitted 
the organist to employ short chords in recitative secco. It 
appears, too, that in passages where the instrumentation is 
lighter, some of the double-basses must have been left out. 
In the bass aria of the nttn part of the Christmas Oratorio, 
one of the strengthening bass instruments is silent through- 
out. 222 In the B minor aria of the cantata " Wir danken dir 
Gott," the whole body of the basses scarcely take any part 
except in the ritornels. 223 We may notice something of the 
same kind in a passage from the first chorus of the cantata 
" Hochst erwiinschtes Freudenfest." Here, in addition to 
the organ bass, string basses and bassoons are employed, 
and, according to the orchestral parts, have to play throughout 
without intermission. In the score, however, at bar 86 in 
the bass line, there is this direction : Organo solo, and again 
at bar 97, Bassoni e Violoni. The chorus is cast in the form 
of the French overture ; this passage corresponds to the 
stereotyped trio passages which are of a softer character, 
and in the real overtures are given to the two oboes and 
bassoon, and which are contrasted with the pompous and 
complete effect of the full orchestra. In order to make the 
con i'rast really effective, Bach makes the bass of the orchestra 
cease, and the organ play alone. He must have deemed it 
sufficient to inform the instrumentalists of his intentions by 
word of mouth at the rehearsal. We know, moreover, that 
he considered the Gedackt as peculiarly adapted for purposes 
of accompanying, from what he himself says in the specifi- 
cation of the repairs for the Miihlhausen organ. 224 We may 

221 B.-G., V., 1 p. 352 ff. B.-G., X., p. 72 ff. P. Vol. 1017, 2144. 

* B.-G., V., p. XVI. 23 B.-G., V., 1 p. 307 ff. P. 1289. 

Vide Vol. I., p. 356. 


therefore conclude with certainty that in similar passages he 
frequently dispensed with a part of the instrumental basses, 
and, especially in arias, employed the whole of them only for 
the ritornels ; that the recitative secco was usually accompanied 
in a short style by his direction, and that, as a rule, the 
Gedackt was used for recitatives and arias. We cannot, 
however, venture to deduce a rule which shall hold good 
for all cases, but must rather conclude that Bach, dis- 
regarding the practice of others, kept himself perfectly 
free in all matters of art ; thus, in accordance with the 
character of the piece he would alternate short chords with 
sostenuto in recitatives, or the Gedackt with some other stop 
of especial fitness for accompaniment, and in other ways 
deviate from what was generally accepted, to the advantage 
of the particular instance. Such deviations were the result 
of his nature, the time, and the subject. 

Schroter and Petri lay down the law that in accompanying 
church music no use whatever must be made of reeds or 
mixtures. 225 By this they only mean to lay stress upon 
the fact that the organ ought never to drown the voices and 
instruments. Besides this, the task of the organ was not 
only to support and hold together the whole body of sound, 
but also to give it unity of colour. In a certain sense it 
occupied, with regard to the other instruments, a position 
similar to that taken in the modern orchestra by the string 
quartet. Just as the wind instruments group themselves 
round this as a centre, so all the instruments grouped 
themselves round the organ. The relations were different 
however in this way, that the organ remained always in 
the background, its effect being merely that of power, and 
that on this background the other instruments were seen, 
not so much as solo instruments, but rather as choric 
groups. One of these groups was the quartet of strings, 
another the oboes and bassoon, a third the cornet and 
trombones, and a fourth the trumpets (or sometimes horns) 

225 Schroter p. 187 ff, where precise directions are given as to the manage- 
ment of the stops in the different parts of a cantata, and also as to the various 
characteristics of such parts. Petri, p. 169. 


and the drums. The flutes occupied a less independent 
place in Bach's orchestra, but in the seventeenth century 
they formed a group by themselves. Any individualisation 
of separate instruments such as is exhibited in the orchestra 
of Haydn was by this means excluded ; the effects were 
produced rather by means of the juxtaposition and contrast 
of the great masses of sound, a method which perfectly 
corresponded to the character of the fundamental instru- 
ment, the organ. The sense of style in Bach's church music 
results partly from his having left these relations of the 
groups one to another, which had become fixed in the 
seventeenth century, unaltered both in outline and detail. 
In this, as in other respects, he had stronger sympathy with 
a bygone time than his contemporaries, who were more 
sensitively alive to the approaching development of concert 
music, and to whom, for that very reason, these traditional 
requirements were antipathetic ; in their church cantatas 
we hardly ever entirely lose the feeling of a deep artistic 
anomaly. Besides this, to return to the comparison between 
the organ and the string quartet, an essential difference lies 
in the relation of the two bodies of sound to the voices. 
In a combination of voices with instruments, the natural 
condition is that the former rule and the latter serve ; so 
that the former fix the character of the piece while the 
latter only give support and adornment. Now the vocal 
music of the sixteenth century had attained greatness, not- 
withstanding that each part was often sung by a single 
voice. These insignificant choruses had remained, with 
few exceptions, in universal use throughout the seventeenth 
century, and far on into the eighteenth, while on the other 
hand the treatment of the instruments continued steadily 
to increase in fulness and variety of colour; so that in 
Bach's time even what we should call an orchestra of weak 
strength outnumbered the singers by more than a third. In 
the Neue Kirche under Gerlach there were only four singers 
to ten instrumentalists. 226 Bach himself, in the memorial 
of August 23, 1730, fixed the number of singers at twelve 

Vide App. A., No. 14. 


and that of the instrumentalists, besides the organist, at 
eighteen in the ratio, therefore, of two to three, so the 
vocal parts certainly did not preponderate ; thus the natural 
proportion was exactly reversed in consequence of an indi- 
vidual development. Handel and Bach, the two culminating 
centres of music at that time, sought, each in his own way, 
to rectify this state of things. The choir with which Handel 
performed his oratorios in England was indeed numerically 
smaller than the* orchestra, but it consisted of singers of 
much greater technical ability than those of the German 
church choirs, and consequently the tone was much fuller ; 
besides, Handel made a much more limited use of the 
organ. The characteristic feature of giving the vocal parts 
more importance than the instruments is very prominent 
with him, and pervades his music so strongly that, in the 
performances of his oratorios within a few years of his death, 
it was settled in England that the voices were to out- 
number the orchestra. In Germany the change did not 
come so soon. In the festival performance of the Messiah, 
got up by Johann Adam Hiller in the Domkirche of Berlin, 
on May 19, 1786, the old proportions were adhered to ; there 
were 118 vocalists, and 186 instrumentalists. 227 

This change, which was gradual in Germany, is to be 
ascribed to the influence of England. But it was only 
suited to the oratorio proper, not to German, or, which is 
the same thing here, to Bach's church music. In the case 
of most of Handel's oratorios, although the chorus is seldom 
or never to be regarded as representing persons in the 
drama, yet, for the proper understanding of the artistic idea 
in its entirety, the consciousness that it is constituted of 
human voices is of the greatest importance. In Bach the 

227 Hiller. Account of the performance of Handel's Messiah in the Domkirche 
in Berlin, on May 19, 1786, 4. The orchestra, strengthened by Hiller by the 
addition of flutes, oboes, bassoons, horns, and trombones, consisted of thirty- 
eight first, and thirty-nine second violins, eighteen violas, twenty-three violon- 
cellos, fifteen double-basses, ten bassoons, twelve oboes, twelve flutes, eight 
horns, six trumpets, two trombones, drums, organ, and harpsichord. The 
choir, which comprised all the singers of the schools of Berlin and Potsdam, 
and all the opera singers, male and female, numbered thirty-seven sopranos, 
twenty-four altos, twenty- six tenors, and thirty-one basses. 

II. X 


use of the voice is of a much more abstract character; 
it is regarded rather as an instrument having the property 
of uttering words and sentences with and on the notes it 
gives forth. Handel's oratorio style tended towards laying a 
stronger and more decisive emphasis on the vocal factor, 
while Bach's chorus admits of strengthening additions only 
within narrowly-defined limits, and, from the first, never bore 
an indirect ratio to the instruments. For the practical 
side of German music, it has been a fatal error, although 
easily accounted for by historical fact, to reckon the oratorio 
as a branch of church music on the one hand, and on 
the other to regard church music from the point of view 
of the oratorio. This is one of the principal causes of the 
hybrid state of the German oratorio in the latter half of 
the eighteenth century; outward circumstances, it is true, 
contributed to this result, -but so deeply imbued were the 
German composers with this amalgamation that, even after 
the practice of performing oratorios in the concert room 
had become usual, its influence long remained evident. 

In Bach's church music the ruling or dominant factor is 
not the chorus or the voices if there be any such factor, 
it can only be said to be the organ ; or, to put it more 
decisively, the body of sound used in performing Bach's 
church music is regarded as a vast organ of which the stops 
are more refined and flexible and have the individuality of 
speech. Still, this organ is not to be conceived of as a dead 
mechanical instrument, but as the conveyer and the symbol 
of the devotional sentiment of the church, which is what it 
had indeed become in the course of the seventeenth century, 
and by the aid of Bach himself. While assigning it this 
place in his church music, he succeeded in effacing, so far 
as he was concerned, the disproportion which existed between 
vocal and instrumental music, and in combining them to 
form a third power higher than either; he could do it only 
in this manner in his position and sphere. Handel and 
Bach, the fundamental sources of whose genius were in part 
the same, had arrived at directly opposite results in this 
as in many other problems in art. This is obvious from 
a study of their works even without regard to comparison 


or analogy. It is, however, always interesting to have 
evidence that Bach was conscious of the individuality 
of his work. In the latter half of the century, as the 
influence of the Protestant church decreased, the spiritual 
meaning of Bach's church music became less understood. 
Kirnberger watched with anger the gradual and increasing 
disuse of the organ in church music, while a secular and 
theatrical style was demanded on all sides which lowered 
this whole branch of art. In his opposition to these 
tendencies he was joined by the school of Bach and many 
other musicians, who devoted themselves to the music of 
the better times that had gone by. Rolle, whom we have 
frequently mentioned, has formularised and handed down 
to posterity the verdict of these men. He says: "In 
theatrical performances, in serious operas, and particularly 
in operettas, and also in concert rooms where solo 
cantatas, great dramatic vocal pieces, and so forth are 
performed, we are accustomed to distinguish the voices 
in concerted pieces in the plainest manner possible, as they 
are not checked, obscured, and disturbed by any organ or 
other powerful accompaniment. We are misled by this 
into demanding the like delicacy of sensuous pleasure 
even in church music. Many practical musicians, how- 
ever, judge quite differently. They say we must never 
mistake the right and true form of church music. We 
must treat that splendid instrument, the organ, rather as the 
ruling power than as passive or as a mere accompaniment, 
and this more especially in choruses, even though the 
ornamental details of both vocalists and instrumentalists 
may thereby be lost. We indeed desire good and beautiful 
melodies, which each separate part can and must have, 
but above all we require noble, complete, and splendid 
harmony." 228 

228 Rolle, Neue Wahrnehmungen zur Aufnahm und weiteren Ausstreitung der 
Musik. Berlin, 1784. This book was severely criticised and soon forgotten. 
The style and arrangement are no doubt confused, but the work is notwith- 
standing full of practical observations and useful facts. The author, who was 
Cantor at the Jerusalem and New Church at Berlin, was a son of Christian F. 
Rolle (mentioned in Vol. I., p. 520), and familiar with Bach's school of music. 
The passage here quoted expressly refers to Bach's pupils, for the heading in 

X 2 


The vocal part of the church music was performed by boys 
and men. In Thuringia and other districts of central 
Germany the church choirs were strengthened by so-called 
" Adjuvanten," or assistants i.e., amateurs from the neigh- 
bourhood, who voluntarily took part in the performances. In 
Leipzig this custom seems not to have obtained to the same 
extent ; we find it once mentioned that in Kuhnau's time 
an " advocate in law " had frequently accompanied the 
church music on the organ. The Collegia Musica, under 
the direction of Schott, Bach, and Gorner, consisted almost 
exclusively of students, who certainly must have taken part 
in the church music. The solos for soprano and alto were 
given, as a rule, to the boys of the Thomasschule choir. In 
the case of pieces composed by Bach himself, their perform- 
ance was no easy task, for in his arias, as is well known, 
great demands are generally made on flexibility of voice, and 
the art of taking breath ; a boy's voice rarely lasts long enough 
for him to acquire a thorough technical education. His singers 
are said, indeed, often to have complained of the difficulty of 
this music. 229 

Still, it may be pointed out that a certain skill in 
technique was at that time more common than at present ; 
it was in the air, so to speak, so that it would be more 
easily acquired. During all that period the Italian art of 
song was in full bloom and was known and admired 
throughout Germany. Little as the German school-choirs 
were capable of turning this art to account in its entirety, 
yet a certain superficial brilliancy found its way among 
them, and with some degree of success. To this, for 
example, is to be ascribed the study of the shake, which 
was enforced with great gravity and zeal in the school singing 
lessons. Wolfgang Caspar Printz, Cantor of Sorau, in his 
Gesangschule which appeared so early as I678, 280 gives 

the table of contents mentions Agricola, Graun, Hasse, Kirnberger, &c., and 
some of those who are related to the families of Bach and Rolle, as being 
' famous musicians, as distinguished in church music as in theatrical music." 

* Forkel, p. 36. 

230 Musica modulatoria vocalis, oder manierliche und zierliche Sing-Kunst, 
1678. He calls the shake " Tremolo," while he gives the name Trillo or Trilletto 
to the tremolo proper, which he also treats of (p. 57 f ). 


instructions as to the shake, and the same was done one 
hundred years later by Petri, who, like Printz, was a school 
Cantor, 231 and by Hiller, one of Bach's successors in the 
Thomasschule. 232 Both direct the study of the shake tc 
be begun early and to be diligently practised every day. 
It is clear, from Bach's compositions, that he demanded 
and expected from his singers facility in executing shakes. 
The German style of vocalisation at this period was a 
mixture of roughness and over-refinement, which a great 
musician such as Bach could only make available for 
his ideal by merging it in the style of instrumental 
art, which then was at an incomparably higher grade 
of development. In these days even, a boy's voice 
seems to us to be utterly inadequate to the task of giving 
expression to the abundance of feeling contained in the 
arias of Bach ; their depth and passion seem to demand 
before all else, and as an indispensable condition, a high 
degree of maturity of artistic feeling. Since it was impossible 
for Bach to reckon upon this condition being fulfilled, 233 the 
conclusion is unavoidable that it was not his intention to 
bring this feature of passionate depth prominently forward. 
Indeed, throughout his music the subjective emotions are 
rather suggested than fully developed ; and this is the true 
explanation of the phenomenon that Bach's music has begun 
to be so deeply felt since Beethoven's time, for during 
this period men's feelings have been particularly open to 
such emotions. In Bach's own time an aria of his com- 
position was, as it were, a lake frozen over; the boy's 
voice glided over the surface, careless as to the depths 
which lay below. Moreover, the suppression of all personal 
feeling was required by the very nature of church music; nor 
is this true only in the case of the soprano and alto voices, 
but for Bach's music as a whole; it is the deepest law 
of its individuality. Boys' voices were at least capable of 

831 Loc. cit., p. 203. 

232 Anweisung zum musikalische- richtigen Gesange, Leipzig, 1774, p. 38. 

283 " The more refined and expressive kind of singing is not to be expected 
of choii boys." Forkel in his admirable dissertation on Church music. (Allge- 
meine Geschichte der Musik, Vol. II., p. 37.) 


fulfilling the requirements of this law. We cannot, however, 
venture to assert that the performance of the solos was as 
yet always assigned to boys alone, for the art of falsetto 
singing by men was still diligently cultivated. This art, the 
practice of which has now so completely disappeared 234 that 
even the rudiments of its technique seem to have become a 
secret, was quite an ordinary thing in Bach's time at Leipzig. 
In the musical societies, where cantatas were performed 
every year with the full number of parts, men alone were the 
performers ; the names of the students to whom the four- 
part singing was generally entrusted, under Hoffmann's 
direction, have been given. And later, Gerlach had only 
four students at his disposal for the concerted music in 
the Neue Kirche; and the choristers of the Nikolai Kirche, 
when they had to sing in four parts, must have been capable 
of doing it by themselves. By means of the falsetto a tenor 
voice was changed into a soprano and a bass into an alto. 
It is expressly stated that this style of vocalisation was 
employed not alone in choruses, but also with a particular 
effect in arias, and that a falsetto soprano could sing up to 
the astounding height of e/// and f///. 235 

In speaking of customs in singing, the way of performing 
the recitative must not be forgotten. The singers of the 
present day are accustomed to deliver Bach's recitatives 
as they are written, and this they do with a view of giving 
them a solemn character, distinct from anything theatrical. 
It is a question, however, whether our present practice 
has not come to be directly opposite to that of the 
earlier time. The free alteration of separate notes and 
intervals in phrases of recitative was seldom if ever employed 
in theatrical recitative in Bach's time; it occurred more 
frequently in chamber music, but almost constantly in 
church recitative. 236 The reason was that the rule at that 

284 [In Germany, at least. Tr.] 

235 Kuhnau, Der Musicalische Qvack-Salber, p. 336: "When he played the 
clavier, and let his alto falsetto be heard (his proper voice was a bass) in some 
favourite arias, the girl was quite captivated " Petri, p. 205 f, gives full 
directions as to the cultivation of the falsetto. 

836 Tosi-Agricola, p. 150 ff. 


time universally followed was to treat church recitative 
in a melodious rather than in a declamatory manner, 237 
whereas in opera it was to be exactly the reverse. These 
alterations, however, serve for the most part the purpose 
of increasing the melodious flow of the phrases. As to 
the cases in which they are to be introduced as a regular 
practice, we are given exact directions by Telemann and 
Agricola. Telemann, in the preface to a collection of his 
own cantatas which appeared in 1725, illustrates these 
uses by examples. 288 On the one hand, they refer to the 
downward skip of a fourth, especially common in final 
cadences. Phrases like these 

according to him, should always be sung thus: 


On the other hand, they treat of the employment of the so- 
called accent i.e., appoggiatura, or prefatory note, consisting 
of the next note above or below the principal one. To 
make this clear, Telemann gives a recitative from one of the 
cantatas which occur in the work, both in the usual notation 
and according to the actual performance : 


Performed. =; 







4 - 

* ?=* 



- gliick 


- te 

Stun - 




Mo - ses 

S * C 



? $ I" 

237 Scheibe, Critischer Musikus, p. 163. 

2M Georg Philipp Telemann, " Harmonischer GOttes-Dienst, oder geistliche 
CANTATEN zum allgemeinen Gebrauche, &c." Service of Harmony, or 
sacred cantatas for general use, which are intended for the furtherance of devo- 
tion, as well private and in the house as public in the church, on the ordinary 
Epistles for Sundays and Holy Days throughout the year, &c. Folio. The 
preface is dated " Hamburg den 19. Decembr, 1725." 



L : j* J" r r L 

Ff=-i g E ryF 

uns nicht mehr so scharf, wie vor - mals, 

draut ! Ja se - gen - vol le 

crrr- z-^-r=iF=F=i 

W P U~ ja U 

Zeit, da un- ser Heil sich ein - ge - fun-den ! Zu diesem hal - te dich, mit 

wah -rer Zu -ver - sicht, und lass dir sol - che nicht bis an dein En - de 


rau - ben, so raubt dirgleich-falls nichts den Schatz der Se - lig - keit. 

k L 




-p ^~ 



^ g fH^I 

He remarks farther that it matters not though the 
accent should sometimes come in collision with the harmony, 
and that a phrase like this : 

must, notwithstanding, be sung in this way: 

The list of "Manieren" which are illustrated in the longer 
examples, does not, as Telemann himself says, exhaust 
all those that are possible, but comprises only the most 
usual of their kind. Agricola gives a certain number of 


these as well, but adds several others, particularly in an orna- 
mental style. In order to understand Bach's position with 
regard to the vocal treatment of recitative, it is necessary 
to consider two points with regard to it. First, that of all 
church composers he undoubtedly is the one who strove most 
earnestly after melodiousness in his recitative; and, on the 
other hand, that he would be most unwilling to give undue 
license to the arbitrary caprice of the performer. The first 
consideration must have led him to regard a free use of these 
ornaments as desirable, and the second to express them with 
the greatest possible precision by written notes. Viewed in 
this two-fold aspect, Bach's recitatives give the result which 
we should expect. The skip of the fourth in the cadence is 
always intended to be performed as Telemann directs, but it 
is always fully written out. Where it is found written in 
the ordinary manner, it must be sung in strict accordance 
with the notes. One of these cases which are of the 
greatest rarity is found in the second part of the Matthew 
Passion, where Jesus says: "Hereafter shall ye see the Son 
of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in 
the clouds of Heaven." 289 In this case the harmony of the 
accompanying violins shows plainly that at the close of the 
phrase the notes to be sung must be b twice and not e b. 
If the interval is to be sung in a florid manner, Bach 
writes it down as such. This florid treatment was accom- 
plished by filling up the interval with the notes that lay 
between, by which means mordents, shakes, and similar 
ornament might be introduced. 240 In the Christmas Oratorio, 
when the crafty Herod sends the message to the wise men 
from the east, commanding them to seek diligently for the 
young child, the phrase which Bach here gives at the close 
of his speech would under ordinary circumstances have been 
written thus : - 

zx$^. r r C Z JSr^r-^r^==f===c^=- a 

*> * 

that I may come and wor-ship Him al - so. 
dass ich auch kom - me und es an - be - te. 

* 39 B.-G., IV., p. 159, bar i. Novello's edition, p. 102, lines 2 and 3. 
840 Agricola, loc. cit., p. 151 f. 


In order to give expression to Herod's malignant scorn, Bach 
wished to signify that the skip of a fourth was to be 
slurred over; accordingly, he writes it completely out: 241 


dass ich auch kom - me und es an - be 

The introduction of the accent or appoggiatura, which, as a 
rule, was only employed to precede an emphasised note, was 
possible in upward or downward direction. When it was used 
in a descending passage it was permitted in the interval of a 
third or a second. When only one emphasised note follows 
the skip of a third, as occurs at the end of the longer example 
of Telemann, Bach very frequently writes out the notes as 
they are to be sung when they deviate from the rule. It 
should be remarked, by the way, that he does not disdain the 
use of the accent after the skip of a third, even on a note 
which has no emphasis. Passages like the following : 

-* , "-. 242 

zu dem wer-de ich ein - ge - hen 

or this 




-i" r r~ 


te ^ ' 


E6 i* * 

ff * 

so kann mich nichts von Je - su schei - den. 

and many others exhibit this clearly. When two notes 
follow, the first of which is emphasised, as in bars 4 5 
of Telemann's example, Bach not unfrequently writes in 
the notes to be sung; e.g., in the cantata " Barmherziges 


ver - bess - re dei - ne Man - gel. 

841 B.-G., V., 2 p. 236, bar 9 ff. Novello's edition. Another example occurs in 
the Cantata " Brich dem Hungrigen dein Brod," B.-G., VII., p. 335. P. 1295. 

242 B.-G., XVI., p. 15, bar 7 f (" Nun komm der Heiden Heiland "). P. No. 1668. 

248 B.-G., VII., p. 44, bars 3 and 4 (" Der Himmel lacht," &c.) P. 1695. 
A passage where this accent is wanting in the original score, but is written 
out in the autograph part, occurs in a duet B.-G., VII., p. 79, bar 3. 

244 Kirchengesange von Johann Sebastian Bach. Berlin, Trautwein & Co., 
III., p. 19, bar 10. See also B.-G., V. 1 , p. 30, bar i. II., p. 27, bar 10. 



When the voice descends only by a second, and one 
emphasised note follows, the accent may also be introduced; 
it occurs too in Bach several times written out, as in the 
cantata "Komm du siisse Todesstunde ": 

ru mei - ner See - len Qual 

If two or more notes follow (Telemann, bars i 2), the 
first, supposing it to be emphasised, would be raised one note 
higher, exactly as Bach has written it in the "Himmelfahrt" 



r & * F b* ^ h- V b 

der da hei - sset der 6l - berg 

If, however, the second note has the emphasis it takes the 
accent, and thus gives rise to a melodic sequence, as in 
Telemann, bars 2 3 and 6; I have found no certain example 
to prove that Bach wrote this out in notes. With regard to 
its use in ascending passages, the accent when introduced 
extempore seems only to have been employed in the case of 
the interval of a second. A particularly expressive phrase 
resulted when two notes followed this interval, of which the 
first was emphasised (Telemann, 5 6 and 6 7); hence this 
kind of accent is found very frequently written out in Bach. 
See the passage from the Matthew Passion : 

"(""!*" - > 

H " fr* 1 g e E~* 

!LJ &-L^ t_: L ^ u 
Ich bin un -schuldig an dem Blut die - ses Ge - rech-ten, se - het ihr zu. 

5 i f 


= 2 = 

I am innocent of the blood of this just person; see ye to it. 
The notes referred to have been altered in the English 

B.-G. II, p. 34, bars 13 14. P. 1279. 


version to suit the words. 246 Or this from the Christmas 
Oratorio : 247 

and sweet-est ten - der -ness will take me; 
und gross- ter Zart - lich - keit um - fas -sen; 

So, too, when only one emphasised note follows, as in the 
cantata "Was Gott thut, das ist wohlgethan " : 248 

ztfcg =- 

. i 


- t*hm 

nl b U- 



- ner 





=* = 

When two notes followed, and the second was emphasised, 
the accent might be introduced as is done by Bach in one 
passage in the Matthew Passion: 

she did . . it, . . 
hat sie ge - than, 

Finally, in the case of an ascending second followed by one 
emphasised note, the accent may be formed by taking the note 
below the emphasised one as the prefatory note. (Telemann, 
bars 3 4.) Accordingly in the cantata "Gott fahret auf 
mit Jauchzen": 

be - freit 

von Weh 

und Ach. 


3 6 

6 5 5 
4 3 

146 B.-G., IV., p. 200, bar 8. Novello's edition, p. 131, bottom line. 

847 B.-G., V., 2 p. 246, bars 12 13. Novello's edition, p. 160. 

248 B.-G., XXII., p. 241, bars 7 8. Compare bars 10 and n. P. 1669. 


Taking these details into consideration, it seems safe 
to conclude that since Bach in general preferred to 
write out all the ornaments he wished used, and, as 
has been shown, wrote them out so very often in the 
recitatives, he must mean that they were not to be intro- 
duced in all the other places where they might perhaps be 
deemed suitable. I fear, however, that this summary 
method of proceeding would hardly fulfil his intention. 
Agricola, on whose works we have just been founding our 
opinion as to Bach's custom of writing out these embellish- 
ments, adds, after he has mentioned this as his custom, 
that we must at the same time be careful to distinguish 
between the places where supplementary notes are essential 
and those where they are only accidental and non-essential, 
and that a passage which is beautiful may have the 
possibility of becoming by many degrees more beautiful. 
When Bach wrote out an ornament in any passage, he 
regarded it as essential to that passage. We can see this 
from the fact that very often he supported the ornament by 
the harmony of the accompaniment, while the general 
custom was to leave the accents, which must always be 
dissonances, quite free. Proofs of this are afforded by the 
last two examples. It cannot be denied that the ornament 
thus ceases to be a mere ornament ; many passages lose 
their recitative character, and the tendency towards the 
arioso, which is the general characteristic of Bach's 
recitatives, is made still more prominent. Still, he can 
hardly have abandoned the general custom so completely that 
he would not leave to a trustworthy singer the task of im- 
proving upon an already beautiful work, as Agricola would 
say, by using even the simplest and most ordinary means of 
adornment. Scheibe's statement that Bach wrote down in 
actual notes " all " the Manieren and " all " the little orna- 
ments, gives us most valuable information as to one of Bach's 
fundamental rules ; but it would scarcely be right to take it 
literally and apply it to each individual case. Besides, it 
must be remembered that in the case of a singer not 
pleasing Bach by his performance, he could always correct 
him by word of mouth, and we have already shown in one 


case quoted above how he availed himself of this resource 
in his relations with his musicians. 249 

To me it seems undeniable that very many passages in 
Bach's recitatives become more flexible, more expressive, 
and altogether correspond better to their inner meaning and 
nature by the use of the accent ; so that it may be assumed 
that Bach himself conceived them as forming part of his 
idea. In such cases, indeed, the final decision must be left 
to taste. Before following taste, however, it must be 
considered in every case whether positive grounds cannot be 
found for singing the passage as it is written, and not un- 
frequently will such grounds appear. In the St. John Passion, 
when Peter denies Jesus, Bach sets the words the first time 

and the second time thus : 

To introduce the accent in the second of these passages 
would be to destroy the composer's idea, since the growing 
excitement with which it ought to be sung is plain to every 
one. 250 Bach was very fond of this kind of psychological 
refinement ; the example given above from the Matthew 
Passion, where, after an ascending second, the first and 
emphasised note of the two which follow is raised, corre- 
sponds to a passage that has gone before, in which the 
accent is also written out. 251 In both it is Pilate who speaks, 
the first time is a doubtful query, "Why, what evil hath He 
done ? " And the second time distinctly deprecating the 
deed : " See ye to it." The identity of his feeling and 
opinion is expressed by the phrase being of similar con- 
struction in both cases. When the same cadence is repeated 

249 Compare also Rust's preface to E.G., XXII., p. xxi. 

260 B.-G., XII., p. 29, bars 14 15, and p. 33, bar 7. Novello's edition, p. 30, 
line 2 and 3 ; p. 36, line 3. 

251 B.-G., IV., p. 192, bar 13. Novello's edition, p. 125, bottom line. 



twice with a short interval between, having an accent in 
one case and not in the other, we must assume that there is 
at least a reason for it. On this account it is right to sing 
the following passage from the Christmas Oratorio : 

=P T~UC 

and sweet-est ten - der - ness will take me. Now, as my 

ft m m 


Bridegroom,! re- ceive Him, And all my heart's de - vo - tion give Him. 

exactly as the notes stand, and without raising the last note 
but one. 

All this, however, as has been said, is only true of 
accents, the simplest and commonest of the embellishments 
of recitative. The rarer and more elegant adornments Bach 
always and this may be definitely affirmed wrote out in 
notes ; among these would be included the practice, usual 
in the case of several repetitions of the same note, of 
adorning one of the most emphatic of these with a mordent 
or something of the kind. 252 Passages in which Bach gave 
in to this custom in his own way, are for instance : 


for bu - ri - al will pre - pare, 
P ty 


When all thy con- flicts o'er. 

Also all prolonged fioriiure, like this : 

^rrTfTTfcEiJ-^ 1 ^ 


Die Freu 

- de wirdzur Traurig-keit 

262 Agricola in Tosi, p. 155 f. 

253 Matthew Passion, B.-G., IV., p. 29, bars 9 10. Novello's edition, p. 23, 
line 3. 

254 "Cantate Ich hatte viel Bekummerniss." B.-G., V., 1 p. 30, bars I and 2, 
p. 31, bars 6 7. Novello's edition, " My Spirit was in heaviness," p. 28, lines 
i and 4. 


and especially long florid passages [Melismata] at the close, 
which were very common in church-recitative. 255 These are 
all in the same category, as well as the two celebrated 
Melismata on the words "And he went out and wept bitterly," 
in the St. Matthew and St. John Passions. 

What has been said of Bach's recitatives is true also of 
his arias. Free deviations from the written notes were 
customary at that time in arias also, and even to a greater 
extent in certain passages. They consisted partly of little 
embellishments of the melody by accents, mordents, and 
the like, partly of prolongation of the cadences, and partly of 
actual varying of the passages of the melody. This last 
method most commonly occurred in the third part of the aria. 
Its object was to prevent the hearer feeling wearied by a 
repetition note for note, or if the musician thoroughly 
felt his work, to heighten the effect of the first part and 
so to bring the sentiment of the piece to a higher pitch 
of passionate emotion. Of such variations there were again 
three kinds : to a passage of few notes more could be 
added, a passage of more notes could be simplified into 
fewer, or a certain number of notes could be exchanged for 
as many others. 256 In Bach, this last method could only be 
employed in the case of a true da capo aria, the first part of 
which comes to a full close in the principal key. This form 
is, however, by no means the rule in Bach's arias. He, 
who made it his first object to develop the materials at 
his command out of themselves, and to combine them 
one with another, could not long be contented with the cut 
and dried pattern of the da capo aria. Its form therefore 
appears in his case in manifold modifications, of which the 
most important consists in making the first part close in the 

855 Tosi-Agricola, p. 151. 

266 Agricola loc- cit. p. 235. In instrumental music the adagio movement 
especially used often to be played in this way. Examples are in Quantz, 
Versuch einer Anweisung die Flote traversiere zu spielen. Tab. XVII. -XIX., 
and in Witling's edition of Corelli's Violin Sonatas. Wolfenbuttel, Holle. 
Two examples of varied arias, although of a somewhat later period, are given 
in Killer's Anweisung zum musikalisch zierlichen Gesange. Leipzig, ijdo, 
n. 135 ff- 


dominant or some other nearly related key, so that the third 
part is not an exact repetition of the first but for its close 
contains another sequence of modulation ; and besides this it 
very often happens that another aspect is given to the first 
part by new phrases and combinations. Thus, the tendency 
which led to the third part of the aria being altered and 
varied is by him intensified and endowed with meaning; not 
only is this part altered by means of outward adornment, 
but its inner nature is altogether changed. But in the case 
of a true da capo, we must remember Emanuel Bach's 
statement, that it was always understood that the accom- 
paniment might be varied by simple alterations of the inner 
parts. 257 The polyphonic form of Bach's arias, the impor- 
tance of each individual note of the melody, and the 
wealth of harmony allow, in most cases, of no alterations 
worthy the name. If a rudimentary knowledge of the 
rules of composition was always necessary for the proper 
execution of such variations, here it would surely be quite 
indispensable ; but among the Thomasschule boys there can 
very seldom have been any who were capable of satisfying 
this demand. It is scarcely credible that Bach should 
have allowed his singers to do just what they liked with 
these profound and strictly-written compositions. With 
regard to the cadences the case may have been rather 
different. The adornment of these was confined, in the older 
periods of the art, to a shake on the second of the three notes 
which form the cadence proper. Subsequently a little orna- 
ment was introduced on the note before the shake, without 
however exceeding the proper length of the bar. It after- 
wards was carried farther, the last bar was sung more 
slowly, and at length began to be adorned with all manner of 
runs, skips, and other possible figures. This way of exe- 
cuting the cadence must have arisen between the years 
1710 and 1716, and was in Bach's time in general use. 258 
We can get a clear idea of it from a place where Bach, 
following his usual plan, has written it out; as, for example, 

267 Versuch iiber die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen. Part II., p. T. 
ass Agricola, loc. cit., p. 195 f. 

II. Y 


at the close of the second part of the first bass aria in the 
cantata "Freue dich, erloste Schaar." 259 Where this has 
not been done Bach often gives the voice part such expres- 
sive passages at the close that there is not much room left 
for the exercise of the singer's fancy. That he permitted 
however a certain slackening of the time and a sparing 
introduction of ornaments appears very plainly from the 
numerous passages where all the accompanying instru- 
ments leave off before the final bars, with the exception of 
the figured bass, which goes on alone to the end. This 
cannot possibly have any other object than to give the voice 
opportunity and space for unrestricted and arbitrary move- 
ment. Finally, with regard to the small ornamentations in 
the course of the melody, the fundamental rule still holds 
good that Bach wrote them out whenever he considered 
them essential to the furtherance of the desired expression. 
In other cases he allowed his singers more or less liberty, 
since in the rehearsal he always had the power of direct- 
ing them by word of mouth as he wished. That he 
relied upon this power, but also that in many places he did 
not consider it a matter of great importance whether an 
ornament was introduced or not, appears very clearly from 
a comparison of the instrumental ritornels with the voice 
part ; frequently the one part exhibits ornaments which are 
wanting in the others, and this not only when one comes in 
after the other, but even when they are together. Whether 
any agreement can be restored between them, and if so, in 
what cases, can in our time be decided by taste alone. 

These considerations extend also to the rendering of the 
choruses. It may appear strange that there can be any 
question of arbitrary ornamentation in them at least. But 
it is a fact that the so-called " Manieren " were introduced 
also into choral singing, and Petri even gives directions, 
as we learn, for "extemporising inner parts in a four-part 
chorus." 260 This phenomenon is explained by the small 
constitution of the choirs and the slight difference that 
there was between solo and chorus singers. The singers 

B. G., V., 1 p. 347. P. 1017. a 60 Petri, loc. cit., p. 211 f. 


were, indeed, divided into concertists and ripienists (i.e., 
nearly the same as into soloists and chorus) ; there was 
no impassable distinction between them, however, but the 
former, besides taking the solos, sang the tutti movements 
as well, and thus constituted the proper nucleus of the 
chorus, the ripienists joining in to strengthen it. It is, 
nevertheless, a fact that the free introduction of " Manieren " 
often resulted in wild and inharmonious confusion, for which 
reason true musicians would have nothing to do with them. 
The only exception was when one part led off a theme 
adorned with "Manieren"; then the part that imitated it 
had to sing it in the same way, without the adornments being 
expressly specified ; for the composer must have imagined 
his theme the second time to be the same as the first. 261 
Whoever considers Bach's choruses knows that they are not 
wanting in all kinds of adornments, whether written out in 
full or only implied by the context. That these last had to 
be really and completely executed is, after all that has been 
said above, just as certain as that the singers were not 
permitted, as a rule, to introduce ornaments of their own 

The instruments added by Bach to complete and enrich 
the body of sound which before consisted simply of the organ 
and the voices, can only have been provided for in part from 
the town musicians. The rest must have been filled up 
by the scholars who could play. It was so both before and 
after his time, until Hiller succeeded in forming the entire 
orchestra from among the Thomasschule boys. 262 The 
limit thus set on the material, a limit regulated at that 
time solely by chance, must have proved a great hindrance 
to Bach in bringing out his works, had he treated the 
orchestra and chorus in the modern style. The older style 
of orchestral treatment had, it is true, defects of its own 
of a different kind. All wood wind instruments have a 
tendency to rise in pitch after playing some time. The 
strings can accommodate themselves to this, but not so the 
organ. Moreover, in the older style of treatment the wind 

K1 Petri, p. 210. Gerber, N.L. II., col. 674. 

Y 2 


was much more constantly kept in activity, and conse- 
quently the instruments got out of tune much sooner. 
Attempts were made in different ways to overcome this 
inconvenience. Johann Scheibe invented mechanism by 
which, by means of greater or less weight on the bellows, 
the pitch of the organ could be made higher or lower,, and 
he attached it first to a small organ made in 1731, which 
had 12 manual stops, 2 manuals, and a i6-foot Fagott stop 
on the pedals. 268 It appears, however, that his invention did 
not meet with great success, since there was a simpler 
means by which the same object could be obtained : several 
of each kind of wood wind instrument were kept in readiness, 
so that when one got out of tune by overblowing, another 
could be taken up. 264 The " chorus pitch," to which organs 
were generally tuned at that time, brought a difficulty 
with it, since most of the other instruments were tuned to 
the ordinary or so-called " high chamber pitch." This 
difficulty was usually overcome by transposing the organ 
part. If, however, it fell out that the only available wind 
instruments were those which were tuned to the " low 
chamber pitch," which was a semitone below the ordinary 
chamber pitch, 265 and that no transposed parts had been 
prepared for them, the strings were obliged to tune afresh. 
In Kuhnau's time the flutes and oboes which were used for 
the church music in Leipzig were of this pitch ; and in 
Bach's cantata for Trinity Sunday, " Hochst erwunschtes 
Freudenfest," which dates from the beginning of his Leipzig 
period, they also occur. There can be no doubt that it 
was to prevent the continual retuning of the strings, which 
was detrimental alike to tone and purity of pitch, that 
Kuhnau often employed violins tuned to " chorus pitch " 
when no wood wind instruments were taking part. The 
trumpets stood as a rule in " chorus pitch," but were 
capable of being lowered to " chamber pitch " by an addi- 
tional piece put on to the mouthpiece, so that the same 

263 Leipziger Neue Zeitung von gelehrten Sachen. XVIII. 833 f. 

lft * Petri, loc. cit., p. 183. 

6* Adlung. Anl. zur Music Gel., p. 387. 


instrument could be used for D major and C major accord- 
ing to "chamber pitch." 266 And, lastly, the constant use of 
the whole group of trombones made it very often necessary 
to employ several players to relieve one another, because 
the bass trombone, in particular, when used, as was cus- 
tomary, to strengthen the bass part of the chorus, demanded 
an expenditure of physical strength for which a single player 
was incompetent. The treble trombone, when used in this 
way, was even more trying ; this certainly was one reason 
for its being supplanted by the cornet, which is less 
fatiguing. 267 

The mode of conducting church music demands our 
special consideration, since in this respect, too, customs 
have much changed since the time of which we are speak- 
ing. They differed, moreover, among themselves, even in 
Bach's time. Johann Bahr, who was in his time Concert - 
meister at Weissenfels, says that one man conducts with the 
foot, another with the head, a third with the hand, some 
with both hands, some again take a roll of paper, and others 
a stick. Every ordinary director will know how to regulate 
his method according to place, time, and persons ; whoever 
would give rules for general acceptation deserves to be 
laughed at. " Mind your own business, and let another 
man conduct as he likes, and do you conduct as you like ; 
so there is no wrong done to any one." 268 All the styles 
mentioned by him have this in common with the modern 
practice that throughout the piece the time is visibly marked 
by a person who leads or conducts the rest. Pictorial 
representations, dating from the first decade of the last 
century, which represent bands of musicians with conductors, 
make the matter quite clear. In a collection of engravings 
published before 1725, by Joh. Christoph Weigel, in Nurem- 
berg, in which are depicted different kinds of musicians 
playing, there is a figure of a music-director who stands 
with a roll of music in each hand, directing a four-part 

26(5 See Appendix A., No. 17. 

267 Petri, loc. cit., p. 184. 

268 Joh. Bahr's Musikalische Discurse. Niirnberg, 1719, p. 171 ff. 


motett, Laudate Dominum, from a score in front of him ; 
beneath may be read these words : 

Ich bin, der dirigirt bey denen Music-Choren, 

Zwar still, was mich betrifft, doch mach ich alles laut, 

Erheb ich nur den Arm, so lasset sich bald horen, 

Was unsern Leib ergotzt, und auch die Seel erbaut. 

Mein Amt wird ewiglich, dort einsten auch, verbleiben, 

Wann Himmel, Erd und Meer in pures Nichts verstauben. 

'Tis I who lead and guide the tuneful choirs here ; 
Silent myself, I cause the music I control. 
I do but raise my arm, and lo, at once ye hear 
Tones that enchant your sense and edify your soul. 
My sway survives the grave, and shall create delight 
When sky and earth and sea are sunk in endless night. 

In other representations, the conductor, armed with his 
roll of music, stands near the organist and the bass 
player, at the organ, or separated from the organist and 
the trumpeters in the front of the organ loft, in the 
midst of the singers and fiddlers, who are grouped around 
him. 269 But the director was not always so "silent himself." 
Many cantors made use of a violin in conducting, so as to 
come to the rescue of the singers if necessary. 270 From 
the thirtieth year of the century onward the practice 
became different. It ceased to be the fashion for the 
conductor to stand and beat time all through the piece, and 
in time it became more and more usual to conduct from 
a harpsichord, that is, now to mark the time with the hand, 
and now to play the piece with the others, according as it 
was necessary, so that order was preserved, not merely by 
mute signs, but by audible musical influence. In very large 
performances alone, with a great number of executants, the 
older method remained in vogue, because it was indis- 

269 In the plates in " Der Durch das herrlich-angelegte Paradis-Gartlein 
Erquickten Seele Geist-volle Jubel Freude bestehend In einem Kern auf allerley 
Anliegen und Zeiten angerichtete Lieder. Niirnberg, 1724." Also in " Altes 
und Neues aus dem Lieder-Schatze, Welcher von GOtt der einigen Evan- 
gelischen Kirchen reichlich geschencket," &c., published by M. Herrmann 
Joachim Hahn. Dresden. 1720, and also in Walther's Lexicon. Leipzig, 

270 (Voigt), Gesprach von der Musik, p. 36. Compare Petri, loc. cit, p. 172. 


pensable. Besides this, the quiet unobtrusive style of 
conducting came to be a famous characteristic of musical 
performances in Germany, which compare very favourably 
in this respect with those in France, where they beat the 
time audibly with a large stick, and yet says Rousseau : 
" The opera in Paris is the only theatre in Europe where 
they beat the time without keeping it ; in all other places they 
keep time without beating it." The practice of conducting 
from the harpsichord was widely imitated, because Hasse 
employed this method in Dresden with such happy effect that 
the opera performances there rose under his direction to a per- 
fection very rarely surpassed. Rousseau has handed down to 
us a sketch of the disposition of the band under Hasse's 
direction. 271 From this we see what was indeed implied by 
the nature of the case, that the Capellmeister at his 
instrument did not undertake the task of playing the 
figured bass as well. For this a special Clavecin d'accom- 
pagnement was placed on the left side parallel with the front 
of the stage, while the Capellmeister and his clavier occupied 
the middle of the orchestra. 

But the employment of the harpsichord as an instrument 
for direction had not been unknown even in earlier times. 
At Torgau a spinet (an instrument of the same genus as 
the harpsichord) was used in the Easter performances of 
i66o, 272 and in Leipzig there was in Kuhnau's time a 
harpsichord in the organ loft in both the Thomaskirche and 
Nikolaikirche, which he sometimes used ; he preferred 
indeed to use the Italian lute, for he considered the 
penetrating tone of that instrument especially suitable for 
keeping the music together. When Bach entered on his 
duties he had the harpsichord in the Thomaskirche, which 
had become useless, set in order forthwith, and got the 
Council to expend the sum of six thalers a year upon keeping 
it regularly tuned, but it was out of use again in the year 

871 In his Dictionnaire de Musique, Planche G., Fig. I., reprinted by 
Fiirstenau, Zur Geschichte der Musik und des Theaters am Hofe zu Dresden. 
II., p. 291. 

272 Taubert, Die Pflege der Musik in Torgau. Torgau, 1868, p. 18, note 3. 


1733, till Easter, 1734, and also from Michaelmas, I743- 273 
In the Nikolaikirche, the organ loft of which was smaller, 
he used the harpsichord which was there, as it appears with 
a still longer interval during which it was not used ; he first 
had it put in order for Good Friday, 1724, when he had a 
performance of the Passion Music in that church, and 
after that traces of its use begin to appear in the year 
1732 and continue till I75O. 274 From the New Year, 1731, 
until the same date in 1733, Bach's son Philipp Emanuel, 
who entered at the university of Leipzig on Oct. i, 1731, 
took charge of the tuning of the harpsichord in the Thomas- 
kirche. With reference to this an opinion of his on the 
cembalo as an instrument for direction will be especially 
interesting. " The Clavier," he says, 275 " to which oui 
practice entrusts the direction of the music, is of all instru 
ments the best fitted to keep, not the basses alone, but alsc 
all the musicians, in the necessary equality of time ; foi 
even the best musician may find it difficult to preserve 
this equality, even though he may generally have his powers 
under control, or he may flag through fatigue. This being 
the case with one, the precaution is all the more necessary 
when many musicians are together, and the more so that 
by this means an excellent substitute is provided for the 
beating of the time, which is in our day only usual in the 
case of performances on a large scale. The notes of the 
clavier, which stands in the middle, surrounded by the 
musicians, are clearly heard by all. For I myself know that 
even performances on a large scale, where the performers 
are far apart, and in which many very moderate musicians 
take part voluntarily, can be kept in order simply by 
the tone of the harpsichord. If the first violinist stands, 
as he should, near the harpsichord, it is difficult for any 
confusion to ensue. In vocal arias, in which the measure 
is arbitrarily varied, or in which all the parts (of the ac- 
companiment) sound together, and the voice part alone 
has long notes or triplets in which a very clear beat is 

273 Accounts of the Thomaskirche. 

274 Accounts of the Nikolaikirche. 

175 Versuch iiber die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen. Part I., p. 5 f, note. 


required, on account of the divided time, the singers' task is 
greatly facilitated by this method of conducting. The bass 
will find it easiest to keep up the equality of time when his 
part is least burthened with difficult embellished passages ; 
and this often gives rise to the circumstance that a piece is 
begun with more vigour than it ends with. If, however, 
anybody begins to hurry or to drag the time, he can be 
corrected in the plainest possible way by means of the 
clavier; while the other instruments have enough to do with 
their own parts because of the number of passages and 
syncopations ; and especially the parts which are in Tempo 
nibato, by this means get the necessary emphatic up-beat of 
the bar marked for them. Lastly, by this method since 
the musicians are not hindered by the noise of the clavier 
from perceiving the slightest nuances of time the pace 
can be slightly lessened, as is often necessary; and the 
musicians who stand behind or near the clavier have the 
beat of the bar given out in the most evident and conse- 
quently the most emphatic way before their eyes by both 
hands at once." Here we have a comprehensive statement 
of the advantages offered to a conductor by the harpsichord, 
from one well versed in the matter, and at the same time 
it is an open testimony that Bach availed himself of this 
method. For the words " our practice entrusts the direction 
to the clavier " can only have this meaning : that the 
person who directs the music, that is, the conductor, does 
so from the harpsichord and by its help. If we take 
the beautiful and lively description of Bach's conducting 
given by Gesner, who, by the way, represents him as sitting 
at the harpsichord, we shall get a clear and correct idea 
of him. Consistent with this picture is what Emanuel 
Bach and Agricola say when they are praising Sebastian 
Bach's facility in conducting: " In conducting he was very 
accurate, and in time, which he generally took at a very 
lively pace, he was always sure : " 276 for the use of the 
harpsichord did not by any means exclude an occasional 
beating of the time ; the object of the instrument was only 

376 Mizler's Necrology, p. 171. 


to keep the thing going, and quickly and imperceptibly to 
restore any defaulters to the right way. 

Of course, for the most part the score was used in con- 
ducting, but sometimes, if this was for any reason imprac- 
ticable, a simple conductor's part was used. The form of 
this part explains very clearly the task of the director. 
It has two staves, the lower for the bass and the upper 
for marking the points where the conductor's support 
was necessary. Generally the upper part alone is written, 
and in fugal movements the entrances of the parts are 
generally expressed by means of the clefs corresponding 
to the parts, generally in the bass stave, but sometimes 
in the upper one too. Besides this everything is given 
which is needful for information concerning the dis- 
position of the work and the materials used in it ; whether 
a particular movement is executed by an instrument or a 
singer, and by which, and whether for several voices or for 
all; whether they sing with or without instruments; when 
the ritornels come in, and so forth. Kuhnau, in leading the 
performance of his Passion according to St. Mark, used such 
a " Directorium sive Quasi-Partitura"; and such a director's 
part, which seems to have been used also for a figured bass 
part, to his cantata " Welt ade, ich bin dein miide," is still 
in existence. 277 

The method of using the clavier as an instrument for 
direction proved itself so good that it remained in vogue 
down to our century, for instance, in the performances of 
the Berlin Singakademie. It was also employed in purely 
instrumental works, and Haydn conducted his symphonies 
at Salomon's concerts in London from a harpsichord. 278 But 
at that time, besides the harpsichord director, there was a 
special conductor as time-beater. In the performance of 
Haydn's Creation, which took place at Vienna, in 1808, 
Kreuzer sat at the harpsichord, and Salieri conducted the 
whole. 279 In the year 1815, when Beethoven's Christus was 

2 " In the Stadtbibliothek in Leipzig. 

278 Pohl, Mozart and Haydn in London. Second part, Vienna, Gerold. 
1867, p. IIQ. 
Gerber, N.L. II., col. 557. 


given at the same place, Wranitzky conducted, and Umlauf 
was at the clavier. 280 In the Berlin Singakademie, Zelter 
in his later years let one of his pupils, Rungenhagen or 
Grell, play the harpsichord, while he himself only beat 
time. 281 Here the clavier player had also to accompany 
the recitative secco from the figured bass, which in Bach's 
performances was the duty of the organist. The harpsichord 
as an independent instrument crept gradually into church 
music, but yet the school of Bach used it only to strengthen 
the tone in such recitatives and arias as the composer had 
intended to be performed without organ accompaniment. 
Emanuel Bach at least recommends this practice; but Rolle, 
on the other hand, considers that such a strengthening of 
tone in the church is more or less an illusion, and that the 
constant new-quilling and tuning which were necessary in 
the winter months made the use of the harpsichord in the 
church difficult and expensive. 282 This, perhaps, was the 
reason why Bach gradually gave up its use in his later 
years. From 1730 onwards, he used instead the independent 
and practicable Riickpositiv organ in the Thomaskirche, 
and with greater convenience, as he could play the figured 
bass himself without being obliged to turn the organist 
out of his seat. 283 How he used to manage when the 
performers were so numerous as to require him to beat 
time throughout whether in such cases he made some other 
persons, for example, his sons Friedemann or Emanuel, play 
the clavier, or whether he left it out and managed the whole 
thing by his beat alone, cannot be certainly known. If the 
first alternative seems to be probable, from internal con- 

280 Nottebohm, Beethoveniana, p. 37. 

381 From the verbal description given us by Herr Professor Grell. 

282 Rolle, loc. cit., p. 56. " The introduction of the harpsichord into church 
music has been strongly advised [alluding to the statement of Emanuel Bach 
given in Vol. I., p. 831]. Since, however, the sound rises in theatrical music, 
while in churches, on the contrary, the sound must come down from the organ 
loft, the introduction of the harpsichord would give no particularly emphatic 
support [E. Bach, loc. cit., had said that even in the loudest music, in the 
opera, and even in the open air, the harpsichord can be heard, if it be put on a 
raised place]." 

ass See Appendix A., No. 18. 


siderations, the last is more likely when we remember that 
he could dispense with the clavier altogether for a whole 
year ; thus he must, by his independent conducting, have 
developed great energy, certainty, and clearness, as indeed is 
expressly testified by Emanuel Bach and Agricola. What 
can be said as to the position of the performers has been for 
the most part given above in Emanuel Bach's words. We 
must, however, remark that the instrumental basses or at 
least some of them, since, to ensure precision and time, 
a good many were employed always used to be placed 
near the conductor, sometimes behind him as he sat at the 
harpsichord, so as to be able, in cases of necessity, to play 
with him from the score. Besides, the trumpets and drums 
were always put rather at a distance from the rest, so as 
not to drown the voices. 28 * A favourite place for them was 
close to the organ, right and left of the organist. 285 



KUHNAU, during the whole period of his being Cantor of 
the Thomasschule, waged an unequal, and, as far as he 
was concerned, an altogether unsuccessful warfare with the 
opera and all connected with it. In all his complaints one 
thought is uppermost: namely, that if he only had at his 
command a sufficient number of performers to take part in 
the church performances he would be able entirely to nullify 

384 Scheibe, Critischer Musikus, p. 713 ff. 

485 See the plate in the collection of songs by Hahn mentioned above, and 
also in Hiller's description of the performance of the Messiah in 1786, the 
appended ground-plan of the places of the performers. Compare the ground plan 
of the Dresden orchestra where two platforms were built for the trumpets and 
drums on the right and left sides; and lastly, Petri, p. 188. Hiller's ground 
plan is very interesting, both historically and musically, even though it is of 
little use for our purpose, since Bach did not dispose his great numbers of 
performers in the ordinary way, and in Handel's oratorios the harpsichord 
played quite a different part. 


the pernicious influence of the theatre, and to promote the 
triumph of a more earnest musical feeling in Leipzig. He 
was mistaken : the fact that his influence on the public 
musical taste constantly diminished was only partly due 
to outward circumstances ; the blame was equally due to 
his own character and that of his musical talents. In a 
time when the old and the new are striving together for 
the mastery, he alone is a successful leader of the public 
taste who is capable of understanding and recognising the 
rights of both. The power that was struggling for expression 
in the opera forms was unintelligible to Kuhnau and foreign 
to his whole nature. He had more than once attempted 
to enter the domain of dramatic music as a composer. In 
earlier life he himself translated a libretto on the story of 
Orpheus from the French and set it to music; it is not known 
with what degree of success. 286 But another opera of his, 
which must have been written very late in life, made a 
distinct fiasco. 1 1 It was his weakness not to perceive that 
the most versatile cannot do everything ; otherwise he might 
have avoided giving such practical proof that his aversion 
to the opera was the result of his failure. Kuhnau was a 
master in the sphere of clavier music, and many considered 
him equally great in church music. There is no question that 
he showed abilities in this branch of art, which raised him 
above his contemporaries. He was better versed in the techni- 
calities of vocal writing than most other German composers 
of the time. His five-part motett for Holy Thursday, Tristis 
est anima mea usque ad mortem^ may be reckoned among the 
more prominent works of the kind ; if it is not of equal merit 
with the motetts of Joh. Christoph and Job. Ludwig Bach 

286 "Xhe foolish fellow now got upon the subject of the opera of ' Orpheus,' 
which I had formerly translated from the French into German poetry, and 
likewise composed the music." Kuhnau, Der Musicalische Qvack-Salber, p. 
456, compare p. 458 ff. 

287 Scheibe, Critischer Musikus, p. 879, note: "But notwithstanding his 
(Kuhnau's) great merit, we know well how badly he succeeded when he under- 
took to set an operetta to music, and put it on the stage." 

288 It exists in the separate parts in the library of the Leipzig Singakademie 
and is numbered 362. 


even in technical qualities, it has a breadth of conception 
which betrays the study of the classical Italian models. 
A chamber cantata, Spirate demente, o zephyri amici, m also 
shows that Kuhnau endeavoured to form himself on the 
style of the Italians. There exist seventeen church cantatas, 
written at different periods of his life. 290 

Scheibe, who considers Kuhnau, Reiser, Telemann, and 
Handel the greatest German composers of the century, 
says : Kuhnau " is now and then carried away by the flood 
of harmonic ideas ; hence, he is often dull and devoid of 
the requisite poetic beauties and ornaments of expression, 
and consequently here and there he becomes too prosaic. 
That he was aware of this himself, however, and that 
sometimes he succeeded in writing deep and poetic music, 
is shown by his things for clavier, and by his last sacred 
works, especially his Passion oratorio, which he finished 
a few years before his death. In these works we see how 
clearly he understood the employment and laws of rhythm. 
We see too, that he was always careful to make his 
sacred works melodious and flowing, and in many cases 
really affecting, though he was not so happy in his dramatic 
work." 291 These words prove what is plain from the works 
themselves that by degrees Kuhnau tried even in his church 
music to make his style similar to that which prevailed 
in opera. The statement that he was "carried away by 
the flood of harmonic ideas" is not to be taken so much in 
the positive sense, i.e., that Kuhnau immersed himself to 
too great an extent in polyphonic obscurity, as in the 
negative sense: namely, that he did not always give due 
consideration to the importance of melody and of variety 
of rhythm. In his earlier works, e.g., a cantata "Christ lag 
in Todesbanden," dating from the seventeenth century, he 
keeps entirely to the style of the so-called "older" church 

289 In the Royal Library in Berlin. 

290 Ten are in the Royal Library in Berlin, and seven in the Town Library in 
Leipzig. Among the latter is a Christmas cantata " O heilge Zeit, wo Himmel, 
Erd und Luft," which however is certainly not by Kuhnau, but is the work of a 
younger master. 

891 Critischer Musikus, p. 764. 


cantatas, of which illustrative examples by Buxtehude were 
considered in an early part of the present work. His style 
never radically altered from this, even in later life ; though 
he adapted himself to the operatic style in many ways, he 
still composed to words by Neumeister, or in Neumeister's 
manner, so that a compromise was the result. 292 This is 
quite clearly seen in the recitatives. Bach's recitatives have 
always a strongly marked melodious character, but this style 
was invented by him, and founded on the dramatic recitative 
of his time. Kuhnau's recitative still retains the arioso form 
of the older church cantatas, varied, however, with the new- 
fashioned recitative phrases. Of the aria form in three 
sections he has left several excellent examples ; one duet for 
alto and bass, in the cantata for Ascension, " Ihr Himmel 
jubilirt von oben," the polyphonic writing of which is very 
flowing and ingeniously developed, must be allowed to be a 
masterpiece. But Kuhnau felt himself much more at home 
in the old simple form of hymn, with its short and pleasing 
staves of melody and time-honoured ritornels. 

Of the choruses, it can only be said that here and there 
they show attempts at a broader and more artistic develop- 
ment, but generally in a tentative manner; as a rule, 
they alternate between homophonic vocal movements and 
meaningless interludes, or between little solo portions and 
tutti movements. In the construction of the chorale, again, 
there is nothing more than an attempt at development. 
There is no free contrapuntal movement of the parts, and we 
have to content ourselves with a few meagre imitations, as, for 
instance, in the final chorus of the cantata "Christ lag in 
Todesbanden " or at the beginning of the cantata " Wie schon 
leucht't uns der Morgenstern." When the orchestra joins in 
with the chorale in figurations, it is very far from being 
employed in an independent way ; in the Christmas cantata 
" Vom Himmel hoch " the chorus sings this chorale in the 

292 Neumeister's cantata " Uns ist ein Kind geboren " (see Vol. I., p. 486) 
was not performed in Leipzig till Christmas, 1720, but the words of church music 
even in the year 1711, are completely in Neumeister's style. For example 
Kuhnau's cantata " Und ob die Feinde Tag und Nacht" is written on a poem 
in this form. 


simplest style of homophony, and the instruments support it, 
only the first and second violins having ascending and de- 
scending semiquaver passages quite in the style of the final 
chorus of Bach's early work, " Uns ist ein Kind geboren." The 
chorale " Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ," in the cantata 
"Nicht nur allein am friihen Morgen," is treated in a similar 
way, but with the addition of a bass. Everything he 
writes is clever and in a flowing style, and hence the effect 
is pleasing; agreeable and even pathetic passages are 
frequently to be met with; but depth of feeling and grandeur 
of form are wholly wanting. Kuhnau must rank with the 
group of writers of the older church cantatas, because he had 
nothing in him to say which could not perfectly well be 
said in the forms of those cantatas; and this is equally true 
of the introductory instrumental symphonies, though his 
independent instrumental music was very admirable. His 
Passion according to St. Mark, composed for Holy Week 
of 1721, to which Scheibe gives especial praise, exists only 
as a sketch. 293 It can, however, be veiy plainly discerned, 
even here, that the prevailing characteristics of Kuhnau's 
church music have left their mark perhaps more strongly 
than ever, and that the composer endeavoured to assimilate 
the more emotional style of operatic music "by poetic 
beauties and ornaments of expression," i.e., by the inven- 
tion of such turns and phrases as had a certain innate 
dramatic value. His inmost nature, nevertheless, remained 
absolutely unchanged even in this. Kuhnau did not under- 
stand the world, nor did the world understand him; it was 
time that they should take leave of one another. 

The position in which Bach found himself with regard to 
theatrical music was quite different. He had mastered 
the principles of all its forms, and had turned them to 
account for his own art. However unlike operatic music his 
compositions may seem, he was by no means devoid of 
an inner sympathy with that style, but rather held that it was 

893 " Directorizim si ve Quasi-Partitura Passionis ex Evangelista Marco." A 
copy made by Burgmeister, in 1729, is in the Royal Library at Konigsbcrg in 
Prussia, Department "Gotthold's Library." 


a just demand of the time that respect should be had to it 
even in church music. The condition of music, as he clearly 
explained to the Council in his memorial on the improve- 
ment of church music, was quite different from what it had 
formerly been; the art had made considerable progress, taste 
had altered in a remarkable manner, the old-fashioned style 
of music in which Kuhnau was still writing had ceased to 
have any charm for the ears of his contemporaries. The 
interest which he took in the Dresden operatic performances, 
for instance, is well known, and a number of secular 
works in dramatic form by him still exist. So far as we 
know, however, he never wrote an actual opera. For 
although he may not perhaps have agreed with the opinion 
of Gottsched, who about this time gave out in Leipzig that 
the opera was the most preposterous absurdity that had 
ever been invented by the human mind, 294 it is yet con- 
ceivable that the glitter and glamour of this branch of art, 
which only serves for the entertainment of an hour, must 
have been antagonistic to his earnest, true, and deep artistic 
nature. Whenever he conceived the wish to go to Dresden 
he would say to his favourite son, " Friedemann, shall we go 
to Dresden again and hear their beautiful little songs ? M295 
If the actual words of the expression have been handed down 
correctly, Bach's relation to the opera is characterised in them 
with striking brevity. Scheibe says, incidentally: "There 
are some great geniuses, who use the word ' song ' (Lied) as 
a term of abuse ; when they want to speak of a piece of 
music which is not sufficiently pompous and intricate for 
them, they call it a 'Lied.'" 296 Since a pompous and 
intricate style is just what Scheibe accuses Bach of, 297 it is 
more than probable that the words we have quoted were 
intended for Bach. The simple construction of the operatic 
forms seemed to him quite inadequate for the realisation 
of his art-ideal, and in this sense he may often have spoken 
disparagingly of them. But when employed by a Hasse and 
interpreted by a Faustina he could yet think them "beautiful," 

294 Gottsched, Versuch einer Critischen Dichtkunst. Leipzig, 1730, p. 604. 

896 Forkel, p. 48. 

396 Critischer Musikus, p. 583. w Idem. p. 63. 

II. Z 


and he knew just as well as his critic did that without 
operatic music he would not have been what he was. 298 

Bach's historical position in art can only be fully under- 
stood by regarding him not as opposed to this music, but as 
accepting all he could from it. The opera in Germany 
was incapable as yet of becoming a living musical drama, 
nor could such a change be effected at that time by 
the hand of a German alone. Under freer, broader con- 
ditions, such as were offered in England, it became the 
oratorio under Handel, while in Germany it was developed 
into Bach's church music. In England the result was 
attained by combination with the forms of Italian sacred 
music, and in Germany by the complete purification 
which it acquired by means of the national art of the 
organ. The history of the development of German opera 
can be clearly traced. After it had risen, by about 1700, to 
be a considerable musical power, it sank rapidly from its 
height, and in the next thirty years it had almost ceased 
to exist, until it was revivified in the latter half of the 
century by an impetus proceeding chiefly from France, 
and shown in the operettas of Hiller and Weisse. In 
Leipzig itself, it was all over with German opera by 
the year 1729. What came to replace it was Bach's 
music. This contained what Kuhnau had vainly striven 
after : namely, the spirit of the time, in so far as it 
could find fitting musical expression in operatic forms, 
and at the same time the genuine church style. Whether 
Bach did anything consciously and directly to extinguish the 
flickering flame of the opera at Leipzig is not known. But 
that his art tendencies speedily became predominant there 
cannot, under existing circumstances, be any doubt. It has 
been generally accepted and stated as a matter of fact, 
that Bach's church music was not understood, and soon 
forgotten, and that the mighty works of his creative genius 
failed to meet with due appreciation. I believe that too much 
stress is laid on certain expressions of disapproval, on some 

1298 Idem., p. 591. Note. " If we in Germany insist on bringing about 
the total banishment of operettas from the stage, we may be quite sure that 
we shall never again see a Hasse, a Graun, a Telemann, a Handel, or a Bach." 


measures taken by the magistracy which are not properly 
understood, and on the partially insufficient means which 
Bach had at his command. 299 With regard to the last 
point, it may well be asked whether Handel was always 
so much better off for his oratorios, or Beethoven for his 
symphonies; and whether an eminent genius ought not to be 
capable of doing wonders with small means ? The high 
respect in which Bach's name and music remained through- 
out the century at Leipzig, the extensive influence which he 
exercised upon the music of Northern and Central Germany, 
and the fact that many of his sacred vocal compositions 
found their way into Saxony and Thuringia, may serve to 
show that we are justified in concluding that his work in 
Leipzig made its mark. 

There had never been any good writer of words for cantatas 
in Leipzig. In 1716 Gottfreid Tilgner had collected five 
annual series of Neumeister's poems, by permission of the 
author, and published them under the title of " Five-fold 
church devotions." 300 These poems, which had hitherto been 
disseminated privately, were now brought within the reach 
of every one, and had such a sale that a new edition was 
demanded in the following year. Tilgner, a young literary 
man, lodged in the house of Magister Pezold, a colleague of 
Kuhnau, whom we have frequently mentioned. 301 Kuhnau 
had undoubtedly set many texts by Neumeister, and besides 
he was very capable of writing texts himself on Neumeister's 
pattern. Bach, however, had no such skill in verse making; 
therefore he was at once obliged to look about for a poet, and 
he chose Franck in preference to Neumeister. 

But he had not to wait long before he found in Leipzig 

299 Bierey, the well-known Music Director at Breslau, made the acquaintance, 
as he told Julius Rietz, of an old church servant in Leipzig, who had been 
employed in Bach's time. He fully agreed with Bierey in his admiration 
of the master, as far as concerned his power as an organ or clavier player, and 
his opinion of the cantatas was thus expressed: "Ah! but you should have 
heard them ! " It is not known, however, whether this opinion was shared by 
the general public. 

soo See Vol. I., p. 474. 

801 Sicul, Die andere Beilage zu dem Leipziger Jahr-Buche, for the year 
1718, p. 187 ff. This gifted and industrious man was driven by melancholy and 
overwork to commit suicide in 1717. 

Z 2 


itself an adequately skilled and always willing collaborator. 
Christian Friedrich Henrici, born at Stolpe in 1700, had 
studied at Wittenberg, and had lately settled in Leipzig, 
where he was living for the present in poor circumstances 
chiefly by writing "occasional" verses. In two of his poems 
he petitioned the King-Elector to grant him free board; 
and in 1727 dedicated to him, through Count Flemming, 
a cantata for his fete day on August 3, beginning " Ihr 
Hauser des Himmels, ihr scheinenden Lichter." 802 In the 
same year he obtained a situation in the Post-office, and in 
the Leipzig Directory of 1736 he figures as Ober-Post- 
commissarius. 303 In 1743 we again come across his name 
as a tax-gatherer and exciseman, and in this capacity he 
died in 1764. The higher officers of the churches and 
schools received a certain annual sum as compensation for 
the general tax on liquors ; this was a special favour. 304 To 
this circumstance a small document in Bach's own writing 
owes its origin ; it is a receipt given to the tax-gatherer at 
Easter, 1743, for a compensation for three casks of beer. 805 
But the intercourse of the two men was not simply 
on matters of business; it had been for a long time of a 
friendly and artistic character. Among the sponsors to 
one of Bach's children, born in 1737, was the wife of 
Henrici, who had then been working for more than twelve 

aos State archives of Dresden. 

sos rjas jetzt lebende und florirende Leipzig, 1736, p. 14. 

804 " Fruuntur nostri privilegio potus a collectis cerevisiae exemti." (They 
enjoy a privilege of having liquors exempted from taxation.) Kuhnau, Jura circa 
musicos ecclesiasticos. Leipzig, 1688. 4, Cap. VI., i. 

sos u Having duly received from Herr Christian Friedrich Henrici, appointed 
exciseman of the district, from Quasimodogeniti (i.e., first Sunday after Easter), 
1742, until same date 1743, by his Majesty the King of Poland and Serene 
Elector of Saxony, according the Electoral decree of November 9, 1646, for 
three casks, each at forty ggr. making altogether five thlrs. 

Five Thalers 

for the two taxes in money and kind, I hereby acknowledge the receipt of the 
same most thankfully. Season of Quasimodogeniti, 1743, at Leipzig. 

" Joh. Sebast: Bach." 

And beneath are the autograph signatures of Deyling and a certain Johann 
Andreas Vater. The impression of Bach's seal represents a rose surmounted 
by a crown. This document, in October, 1870, formed part of a collection of 
autographs in the possession of the late General-consul Clauss of Leipzig. 


years in collaboration with. Bach. Henrici began his literary 
career in 1722, as a satirist ; in this respect we may call 
him a disciple of Christian Giinther, though, as he is not 
to be compared to the last-named poet in talent, his mean 
style and bad taste are all the more repulsive. He was 
incapable alike of Giinther's free and picturesque imagery, 
and of his audacious licence. When his satirical poems 
created ill feeling he was frightened, and declared that he 
had only the best intentions in writing such productions, 
but that the unfortunate results had spoilt the fun, and the 
threats of the evil-disposed had deprived him of all his 
pleasure in it. He now only wrote poems from time to 
time to please his patrons and friends, but he does not 
deny that he used " a sharpened pen." In the year 1724 
he turned his hand to sacred poetry. He thought it 
incumbent upon him to give a public explanation of this 
sudden change. "He imagined that many people would 
laugh to see him assuming a devotional attitude. He wished 
to guard, however, against the imputation of having been 
quite unmindful of heavenly things, and considered it only 
right to offer to his Creator the fresh fruits of his youth, 
and not the worn out remains of his old age. Let not 
anyone blame him for making poetry his chief employment 
and troubling himself little or nothing about other branches 
of learning. If necessary he could produce credible testi- 
mony to his academic diligence. Besides, verse-making 
was easy to him, and took him very little time. Why 
should he not then employ this natural gift and turn it to 
account for his living?" The work to which these and 
other remarks served as preface was entitled : " Collection of 
profitable thoughts for and upon the ordinary Sundays and 
holidays"; he uses here the pseudonym of Picander, which 
he adopts from this time. The work consists of meditations 
in rhyme, mostly in Alexandrines, to which a set of verses 
to the melody of some church hymn is usually appended. 
They did not at first appear in a collected form ; for a year 
the poet was in the habit, on Saturdays and Sundays 
after vespers, when other people were enjoying themselves 
in unseemly dissipation, of putting into rhyme his thoughts 


on the Gospel, and of bringing them out week by week on 
a half-folio sheet. To this custom he adhered ; the first 
piece was written for the first Sunday in Advent, 1724, and 
the second and last for the same day in I725. 306 

Considering that he had now made ample atonement for 
his sins, and that his reputation was firmly re-established, 
he once more threw himself into the arms of the secular 
muse. In 1726 there appeared, written by him, three 
German plays: "Der akademische Schlendrian," " Der 
Erz-Saiifer," and " Die Weiberprobe," "designed for amuse- 
ment and instruction." They are low, repulsive farces, 807 
but the tone which pervades them was his natural element, 
and he owns that it would be pleasanter and easier to him 
to sing four bridal songs than to grind out even one dirge. 
His chief object in writing these things was not attained, 
however : that of gaining enough to live on. He therefore 
brought out in the year 1727 a new collection, consisting 
of "Grave, gay, and satirical poems," and dedicated them 
" To fortune who will surely yet be kind to him, and grant 
him something more." Fortune was kind, and he got his 
situation in the Post-office. In 1728 there followed a col- 
lection of texts for cantatas in Neumeister's style. 308 This 
was the only collection of the kind which he brought out, 
and he subsequently incorporated it with his " Grave, gay, 
and satiric poems," to which four more parts were gradually 
added. 309 Henrici considered himself an original genius 

806 The title of the first part runs thus, differing slightly from that of the 
complete edition: " Sammlung | Erbaulicher Gedancken, | Bey und viber die 
gewohnlichen | Sonn- und Festtags- | Evangelien, | Mit | Poetischer Feder ent- 
worffen | Von | Picandern. | Leipzig, | Gedruckt bey Immanuel Tietzen." | 8. 
The Preface, which is wanting in the complete edition, is dated November 30, 
1724. In the complete edition it is replaced by a short notice to the " kind 
reader" dated First Sunday in Advent, 1725 ; it is dedicated to Count Sporck. 
A copy is in the Royal Library at Berlin. 

807 On these and their connection with Weise's plays, compare Gervinus, 
Geschichte der deutschen Dichtung. Three Vols. (sth Ed.) p. 600 f. 

308 " Cantaten | Auf die Sonn- | und | Fest-Tage | durch | das gantze Jahr, | 
verfertiget | durch | Picandern. | Leipzig, 1728." The preface is dated June 24, 
1728. A copy is in the Royal Public Library in Dresden, Lit. Germ. rec. B. 1 126. 

809 The second in 1729, the third in 1732, the fourth in 1737, and the fifth in 
1751. The series of cantatas is reprinted in the third part. 


and a pioneer of public taste. He " foresaw," he says in 
the preface to the Sammlung erbaulicher Gedanken, " that 
imitators of his style would speedily arise ; he wished 
them better success than he himself had met with. 
For his part, he would rather try an unbeaten track 
than follow in the footprints of another." And then he 
goes on alluding to the strong influence of English 
literature, which was then beginning to make itself felt : 
" Everybody at Leipzig wishes to be critics, patriots, 
and moralists, without having tested their powers, and 
it can only be regretted that the world-famous name of 
Leipzig should be used as a vain shelter for such unworthy 
productions. Nothing is more praiseworthy than the fore- 
sight with which the authorities have suppressed wretched 
trash of this kind, and these measures will go far to free 
Leipzig from the present polluted condition of its literature ; 
Leipzig, so renowned even in foreign lands for good and 
refined taste. Well may such abortive productions hide 
their heads at last for very shame of their imperfection." 
He himself shines most in his satirical writings. They 
exhibit a certain keenness of perception, and a knowledge 
of human nature unusual in one so young, and they are 
very skilfully rhymed. 310 His giving up this line of work 
so soon is a sign that his satires were not so much the 
spontaneous production of his mind as imitations of others, 
suggested by outward circumstances. In the Epithalamia, 
the most numerous of his poems, a few pretty ideas are 
entirely overpowered by the dulness of the rest, while the 
plain-spoken improprieties are all the more odious from 
the weakness of the whole tone of the work. In spite of 
this, the fact remains that for a whole generation his poems 
enjoyed great popularity ; they reached four editions before 
the year 1748, and no doubt they reflect with considerable 
truth the poetic taste of Leipzig at the time. 

In his sacred poems, Picander shows even less original 
talent than in the satires and the secular occasional verses. 

810 The best specimens are to be found in the first edition of the first part 
of Ernst-, scherzhaffte und satyrische Gedichte, p. 477 566. 


This branch of his art was utterly foreign to his nature, 
and probably he never would have attempted to write 
poems for cantatas had not Bach been in want of a 
versifier, and had it not been important to him, striving 
as he was for the mere necessaries of life, to be brought 
into connection with the celebrated composer. It is clearly 
perceptible too that Bach fashioned him for his own purpose. 
Many indications point to the fact of Bach having employed 
him in the beginning of 1724, or perhaps even for the 
Council election of 1723. The first sacred poem by Picander 
to which he is known to have composed the music the 
Michaelmas cantata "Es erhub sich em Streit," was written 
in 1725. The " Sammlung erbaulicher Gedanken," begun 
in the previous year, afforded no opportunities whatever 
to the composer; but in this cantata Neumeister's form of 
poetry is used with success, at least in the recitatives, 
though the texts of the arias betray the hand of a beginner. 
As Picander had previously written words for several 
occasional cantatas, he cannot have found it hard to acquire 
the knack of getting the right form in the sacred cantatas. 
Many turns of expression show the influence of Neumeister, 
and especially in one particular, that he tries to give his 
diction an ecclesiastical tone by a free admixture of Scrip- 
tural expressions, and of allusions often extremely far- 
fetched to Biblical events. In the year 1725 he wrote for 
the first time a Passion poem, taking Brockes for his model. 
From this time the intercourse between Bach and himself 
became closer. Picander was himself not without musical 
talent and knowledge, and in this respect he had one advan- 
tage over Neumeister, to whom indeed he was not inferior in 
his easy use of language. In his secular poems the allusions 
to musical matters are of frequent occurrence, and they go 
into such detail that we may conclude that he not only took 
a lively interest in it, but practised it also himself. 311 In one 
place he even gives two very pretty dances as a musical 

811 Compare "Das Orgel-Werck der Liebe," written in 1723, in "Ernst- 
scherzhaffte und satyrische Gedichte," 1727, p. 303 ff., and " Die Vortrefflichkeit 
der Music," written 1728, in the collected edition of 1748, Vol. II., p. 662. ff. 
and the same, p. 621 f. 


appendix, 312 and from a poem of the year 1730 we learn 
that he was a member of a musical society which must 
have been the one conducted by Bach. 313 

In the preface to the year-book of cantatas written in 
1728-1729, Picander says : " To the glory of God, and 
actuated by the requests of many good friends, and by much 
devotion on my own part, I resolved to compose the present 
cantatas. I undertook the design the more readily, because 
I flatter myself that the lack of poetic charm may be 
compensated for by the loveliness of the music of our 
incomparable Kapellmeister Bach, and that these songs may 
be sung in the chief churches of our pious Leipzig." This 
cycle of poems was thus directly intended for Bach, and it 
seems to owe its origin to an unexpected wish expressed by 
him, since it does not correspond with the ecclesiastical 
year, but begins with St. John's Day, ending with the fourth 
Sunday after Trinity. For Good Friday, 1726, Picander 
wrote the text of the St. Matthew Passion, this time, however, 
not imitating Brockes' plan, but keeping the Bible words 
unchanged. Here again Bach's influence is easily per- 
ceptible, and it may be also traced in the circumstance that 
Picander seems to have borrowed some of his ideas, at least, 
from Franck. It is impossible to give any positive evidence 
of this, since Franck's skill in cantata writing was never 
anything but moderate. Still, a comparison of certain 
portions of the German text will seem sufficient proof 
to the reader who cares to search into the matter, and 
as Bach certainly loved Franck's work for the sake of his 
fervent and rapturous sentiment, it can only have been he 
who referred Picander to Franck's works. 

After 1729 Picander published only a very few sacred 
poems, but it must not be supposed that he ceased writing 
them altogether. We may indeed feel certain of the contrary, 
for a lasting intercourse remained between him and Bach, 
and he was the only person in Leipzig who could undertake 
tasks of this kind with adequate skill. If we are not to 

812 Poems of 1727, p. 540. 

si" Collected edition, Vol. II., p. 819 if. 


regard Picander as the author of most of the other cantatas 
which Bach wrote in Leipzig, it is inexplicable that Bach 
should never have set to music a single one (so far, at least, 
as we know at present) out of the numerous collections 
of cantatas which appeared at that time, and which must 
have been accessible to him. 814 After what has been said, 
Picander's omission of these cantatas from his collected 
works is easily explained ; he put no value on these manu- 
factured compositions, which were put together hastily and 
to please his friend. Franck wrote out of a true poetic in- 
spiration ; Neumeister as an active theologian and preacher ; 
while Henrici did not feel himself impelled to writing 
sacred poems by any genuine or hearty interest in such 
things. His impulse came solely from Bach, and this 
explains the pains he took in turning to account the pro- 
ductions of others and remodelling them for Bach's pur- 
poses ; and of this procedure his treatment of Franck's 
hymns is not the only example. Bach also took an interest 
in the writing of Johann Jakob Rambach, several of whose 
devotional works he had in his library. He never used one 
of Rambach's cantata texts, however, although they are as 
good as anything of their kind. But he seems to have 
drawn Picander's notice to a pretty madrigal by Rambach 
(" Erwiinschter Tag") : 

O wished-for day, 

To be engraved on marble, 

Or metal that will ne'er decay 

for the same idea occurs in the text of one of Picander's 
Christmas cantatas (" Christen atzet diesen Tag") : 

Christians, grave ye this great day 

In brass and stone that will not perish. 

In a cantata by Rambach, for the Feast of the Purification, 
one of the arias begins thus (" Brechet, ihr verfallnen 


Rest, O eyes so dim and weary, 
Close in slumber's sweet repose. 

314 E.g., the poem written by J. D. Schieferdecker and E. G. Brehme for 
music, in the castle churches at Weissenfels and Sangerhausen, in the years 
1731-1735. Bach was Capellmeister at Weissenfels, and in that capacity had 
to perform certain duties at Court. 


And in one of Bach's cantatas on the same feast there are 
these lines (" Schlummert ein, ihr matten Augen") : 
Slumber now, O eyes so weary, 
Close in soft and sweet repose. 315 

Bach had composed music to an ode by Gottsched for the 
obsequies of Queen Christiana Eberhardine, and afterwards 
wished to put the music to some other purpose ; Picander 
gave his assistance and wrote a new poem, so that the 
funeral ode became a Passion according to St. Mark. 316 
He was just as willing and ready to put new words to com- 
positions on his own texts, if the music could thereby be made 
available for other purposes. 

It is worth while to draw attention to the difference which 
existed between the sister arts of music and poetry as 
regards their art-ideals. Music as applied to religion had 
attained a height which must be allowed to be unapproached 
before or since, in respect both to depth and richness of 
substance, and to variety and breadth of form. The art of 
sacred poetry, however, so far from rising to a similar level, 
had sunk, under the successors of Neumeister, to be a false 
and hollow mockery. It would not be too much to say that 
the influence of the cantata-poem upon the development 
of poetry at that time was really ruinous. For these 
collections of texts, although made for the special purpose 
of musical treatment, ere long asserted their claim to be 
regarded as independent creations. Originally printed 
separately, in order to enable the congregation to follow 
the words during the music, they soon came to be con- 
sidered as devotional works on their own account, and 
were, in fact, sold as such in large numbers. Very many 

sis " M Job. Jacob Rambachs, | HALLENSIS, \ Geistliche | Poesien, | 
Davon | Der erste Theil | Zwey und siebenzig CANTATEN iiber | alle Sonn- 
und Fest-Tags-Evangelia; | Der andre Theil | Einige erbauliche Madrigale, | 
Sonnette und Geistliche | Lieder | in sich fasset." (Magister J. Jacob Rambach 
of Halle's Spiritual Poems, of which the first part consists of seventy-two 
cantatas on all the Gospels, for Sundays and Festivals; the second part 
contains several madrigals, sonnets, and sacred hymns.) Halle, 1720, pp. 218 
and 257. B.-G., XX., 1 p. 37. 

316 This matter has been cleared up in a conclusive manner by W. Rust, in 
the preface to B.-G., XX., 2 p. VIII. f. 


of these texts were never set to music ; for Picander 
wrote cantata-poems even for the Sundays on which, as he 
knew very well, there was no music in church viz., for the 
Sundays in Lent and the three last in Advent. Those who 
chiefly threw themselves into this branch of poetry were 
persons who either had no poetic faculty at all, or in 
whom whatever talent there might be inclined to another 
kind of work ; to the last class belonged Picander, as 
well as another writer well known at that time, Daniel 
Stoppe, of Silesia. The gigantic advance made by Brockes 
in his " Irdisches Vergniigen in Gott," and by Gellert in 
his odes and songs not to mention Klopstock, who came 
somewhat later can only be perfectly estimated by a com- 
parison of their works with the great mass of the cantata- 
poems in vogue in Bach's time. Still, it must be admitted 
that the new spirit which appeared in the works of these 
men was unsuited and opposed to musical setting ; their 
poems were to attain their end by their own poetical 
inspiration, independent of other aids. During Bach's 
period, artistic feeling and emotions in the domain of religion 
found vent almost exclusively in music, and from the 
moment when sacred poetry made itself felt as a prominent 
influence religious music began to decline. The overpowering 
predominance of the musical factor in this kind of work is 
very clearly seen in Bach's relations with his Leipzig poet. 
It might have been fatal to him, for it is not possible that 
church music can be genuine and good which utterly dis- 
regards the particular religious sentiment or emotion called 
up by the poetry; indeed, Reiser, Telemann, and Stolzel, 
although their gifts were by no means small, had succumbed 
to this very danger. Bach triumphed over it, because, how- 
ever fully and comprehensively he represented all the musical 
inspirations of his time, he yet remained faithful to the 
foundation of all Protestant church music, namely, the 

Bach composed in all five complete "year books" of church 
cantatas for all the Sundays and holy days. 317 Now, by 

817 Necrology, p. 168. 


deducting the six Sundays in Lent and the last three in 
Advent, and adding in the three feasts of the Virgin, and 
also the festivals of the New Year, Epiphany, Ascension, 
St. John, St. Michael, and the Reformation festival, we get 
a total of fifty-nine cantatas to the ecclesiastical year at 
Leipzig. It follows, then, that Bach must have written on 
the whole 295 church cantatas. Of these at least twenty- 
nine belong to the period before his coming to Leipzig ; then 
the maximum of those written at Leipzig must be put at 
266. As Bach was twenty-seven years working at Leipzig, 
he would have written on an average ten cantatas in a year. 
Telemann, who was four years older than Bach, wrote nearly 
seven "year-books" of cantatas in 1718 alone; 818 and in 
1722-23 Johann Friedrich Fasch wrote a double set of church 
compositions, for the morning and afternoon, and when 
Saints' days occurred, often four cantatas in one week. 819 
This comparison of mere numbers is only given to con- 
fute the opinion of Bach having been a voluminous and 
rapid writer. The number of his works is indeed very 
large, but it is spread over a long life. The talents of 
Telemann, Fasch, and other of his contemporaries who 
were prolific in production, were of a shallower kind, and 
their work is therefore no proper standard of measurement 
for that of Bach. But even when compared to geniuses 
of nearer equality with himself, such as Handel and Mozart, 
Bach appears as a more deliberate worker, though at the 
same time a more clear and certain one. His scores do not 
give the impression that he made many preparatory sketches 
or experiments with the chief subjects, as Beethoven did, for 
example. They seem to have been written down when the 
work had been completed in its outline and general features 
in the composer's mind, but yet not so far that nothing 
could be added to it during the actual process of writing it 
down. The cases in which he discarded and altered the 
entire original design ox any piece are comparatively rare, 820 

818 Mattheson, Grosse General-Bass-Schule, p. 176. 

819 Gerber, N. L. II., col. 92. 

820 The first sketches of the cantatas " Die Himmel erzahlen die Ehre Gottes " 
and " Man singet mil Freuden vom Sieg" met with this fate- 


but alterations of detail are of frequent occurrence. When, 
after a lapse of some time, he took up one of his works, 
he never omitted to try it afresh, and, when occasion re- 
quired, to improve it ; compositions on which he laid great 
importance he used to re-write again and again, refining and 
adorning them into perfection. This careful forethought 
is illustrated also by the fact that he very frequently took 
a share in the work of transcribing the parts. The cantors 
always had among their scholars one or more musical 
copyists, and Bach did not omit to keep his pupils very 
hard at work at this employment on occasion ; and even 
in the year 1778 Doles recalls to mind the quantity of 
notes that Bach made the Thomasschule boys transcribe. 821 
His sons, too, had to give their assistance, but his best 
copyist was his wife ; her handwriting, which helped in the 
production of the parts of all the first Leipzig cantatas, meets 
us even in the church compositions of Bach's later years, 
larger and stiffer, but as firm and accurate as ever. Where 
so many hands were helping, many musicians would have 
spared themselves the mechanical labour of writing out 
the parts, which must have taken much of his time from 
composition. Those 266 Leipzig cantatas are the work 
of the truest artistic industry devoting itself solely to the 
subject in hand ; a mighty monument built up stone by 
stone. It has not remained until our day in an unimpaired 
condition, for all that are at present known of Bach's 
cantatas, even including the six cantatas of the Christmas 
oratorio and the more important fragments, only reach the 
number of 210. 

Bach's trial piece was performed on the Sunday next 
before Lent (February 7), 1723; it was the cantata "Jesus 
nahm zu sich die Zwolfe." 822 The cantata " Du wahrer 
Gott und David's Sohn" 823 seems to have been at first 
intended for this occasion ; it is recognisable as having 
been written at this period, and while he was yet at Cothen. 

821 In a written apology addressed to the Council on July i5th, 1778. See 
Council deeds " Die Schule zu St. Thomas betr. Fnsc. II." 
8*2 B.-G., V.,i No. 22. P. No. 1290. 
*> B.-G., V., 1 No. 23. P. No. 1551. 


It consists of a duet for soprano and alto, a recitative for 
tenor, and two choruses, one free and one on a chorale ; it 
shows the master at a height that none of his former works 
had approached. The text is not particularly adapted for 
musical setting Scriptural words are wanting altogether, 
and the rhymed verses are in "madrigal" form, occasionally 
changing into Alexandrines. Here, more than in most 
cases, Bach had to give form to the whole, and it is 
quite peculiar. The Sunday (Estomihi, as it is called) is 
the one next before Lent, when the minds of the people 
are to be prepared for contemplating the sufferings of 
Christ. In the gospel for the day it is related how Jesus, 
with His disciples, is drawing nigh to Jerusalem, there to 
await His Passion. A blind man sits by the wayside, and 
appealing to Christ, as He is passing by, to have mercy 
upon him, receives his sight. These ideas form the germ of 
the religious feeling of the work : the fervent cry for help, 
and the presentiment of the tragedy that is approaching. 
The duet (in C minor Adagio molto) is accompanied by two 
oboes, which with the bass have an independent and more 
animated movement, surrounding the broad phrases of the 
melody and the sustained tones of woe in the vocal parts, 
which are in imitation. There is less emotion in the recita- 
tive, except at the end where it rises to passionate intensity. 
The prominent feeling of this piece is not however given 
out by the voice, but by the first violin and the oboe, 
which play the melody of the chorale " Christe du Lamm 
Gottes " very softly above the vocal recitative. This bold 
combination of chorale and recitative is a new effect, 
even in Bach, but it followed almost naturally from his 
melodic manner of treating recitative, and after he had 
ventured upon a recitative-duet. 824 Its effect is very power- 
ful ; the whole feeling of the Passion, so tragical and yet so 
full of comfort, comes over the hearer like a flood. The 
chorus (in E flat major) now rises in a perfect cycle, its 
chief section being repeated in a solid homophonic style, 
while the central portion consists of imitative two-part 

See Vol. I., p. 557. 


interludes between the tenor and bass. Yet this chorus, 
with its mighty pathos, is not the climax of the emotional 
progress of the work. The expectation of Christ's passion 
and death is brought out as the strongest element ; the 
E flat chorus is immediately followed by the chorale chorus 
in G minor on " Christe du Lamm Gottes." On account of 
the shortness of the melody, all three verses are gone 
through, which is rare with Bach. The first verse, 
sung more or less in homophony by the chorus, has an 
independent instrumental accompaniment of a mournful, 
wailing character; in the second verse the course of the 
lower parts is more animated, the upper part (with the 
melody) being imitated in canon both by the oboe and the 
first violin ; by the former, at the third note of the melody 
in the fourth below, and by the latter, at the sixth note in 
the third above; in the third verse, which closes in an Amen, 
the lower parts have a different, but quite as vigorous a 
counterpoint, while above the Cantus firmus the oboes give 
out a new melody of the highest intensity of expression, and 
sharply contrasted in its rhythm. The feeling rises through- 
out from sadness to intense grief, and at last is changed 
into a pious prayer, pleading for reconciliation with God. 
A new treatment of the chorale form is shown in the first 
verse, and one subsequently much used and largely developed 
by Bach ; here, however, it is only used in very modest pro- 
portions. In the second verse enormous skill is shown in 
polyphonic combination ; it is evident that this form comes 
directly from organ-music, and Bach treated this very 
chorale, together with many others, in his " Orgelbuchlein." 825 
The last verse, on the other hand, is in the manner of the 
older composers, and is only superior to their works in the 
constantly melodious character of its instrumentation. 
Moreover, it must not be overlooked that between the second 
and fourth numbers of the cantata deep poetic connec- 
tion subsists which has been already noticed in different 
cantatas of the Weimar period; 826 the chorale melody, which 
in an earlier movement was given to the instruments alone, 

826 See Vol. I., p. 600. 826 See Vol. I., p. 544. 


is sung at the close, being used at the beginning to give a 
tone to the emotional aspect of the work, and at the end to 
bring out clearly the devotional feeling. In every respect 
this cantata is a trial piece well worthy of Bach; compared 
with the one which he actually employed for that purpose, 
it is easy to see why he judged it necessary to keep this 
cantata in reserve for a time. It was too grave, deep, and 
elaborate. Bach knew the taste of the Leipzig public, 
accustomed as they were to varied styles of operatic music 
and to Kuhnau's soft and tender tunes. 

In the cantata "Jesus nahm zu sich die Zwolfe," he 
adapted himself more to this taste. The fugal chorus in the 
first number shows a simplicity of counterpoint which is of 
very ordinary occurrence in the works of Telemann, but 
which surprises us in Bach. An agreeable tenor aria is 
followed by an easily intelligible chorale number, in which 
the chorus in four simple parts is accompanied by the upper- 
most instrumental parts in counterpoint of semiquavers, 
which is continued in short interludes. This was a form 
much in vogue at the time ; Bach himself had formerly made 
use of it, 827 and in this instance it is only enriched so far that 
passages, mostly of an independent though not very char- 
acteristic order, are allotted to the second violin and the 
viola. The other numbers are deeper, especially the opening 
of the first, an unison chorus for tenor and bass ; the most 
important part of this is in the instrumental portion, which 
is very delicately interwoven and is much less like an 
accompaniment than an independent piece. From this 
number alone we can see in truth that the composer under- 
stood his business. The work as a whole is well suited 
to its purpose, but it can in no respect be considered of 
equal merit with the first one, which seems to have been 
first performed on the Sunday before Lent, I724- 828 

We cannot now be sure what was the music for Whitsun- 
tide with which Bach began his labours in the University 
church. 829 The only cantata which is likely to have been 

*" See Vol. I., p. 491. s 8 See App. A., No. 19. 

M8 See ante, p. 214. 
II, 2 A 


used is " Erschallet ihr Lieder, erklinget ihr Saiten," but 
there are convincing reasons for placing the date of compo- 
sition two or three years later. He began his church work 
as Cantor of the Thomaskirche on the first Sunday after 
Trinity. It has not, it is true, been expressly recorded that 
the first church music conducted by him and favourably 
received by the congregation was of his own composition ; 
but this may be taken for granted according to the customs 
of the time. 880 There exist two cantatas for the first and 
second Sundays after Trinity, the last of which is dated by 
Bach himself 1723. The first is so exactly similar to it as 
regards the text and the musical form, both in outline and 
in detail, as well as in feeling, that no doubt can be 
entertained that they both belong to the same period, 
especially when we remember Bach's characteristic way, 
before alluded to, of producing several examples at once 
of any new form previously unused by him. 881 The chief 
novelty of form in this case is that we here meet, for the 
first time in Bach's work, with the church cantata in two 
divisions. We know already that on the high festivals 
part-music was sung before as well as after the sermon, 
and that it was allowed in this latter place even on 
ordinary Sundays and holy days. But to cast one single 
work in so large a mould, as that it could be divided into two 
independent parts, was at variance with previous customs, in 
Leipzig, at least. It seems to me that Bach, in this innova- 
tion, followed the method of the oratorio composers whose 
works, destined for the Catholic form of worship, were so 
arranged that the sermon came between the two parts. 382 

MO ACT A LIPSIENSIVM ACADEMICA. 1723., p. 514." On the 3oth 
of the said month (namely May), as on the first Sunday after Trinity, the new 
Cantor and Collegii Musici Direct., Hr. Joh. Sebastian Bach, who came from 
the Ducal Court at Cothen, performed his first Music here with great applause." 
(See Ante, p. 215, Note 64.) In Sicul, ANNALIVM LIPSIENSIVM 
MAXIME ACADEMICORVM SECTIO XX. Leipzig, 1726, p. 479, it it 
stated that this performance took place in the Nikolaikirche. 

881 See App. A., No. 20. 

882 The division which was usual, even in the i7th century, of oratorios into 
two parts, in contradistinction to the triple division of operas, is explained by 
this custom, which obtained, in Italy, at least, throughout the whole of the i8th 
century. See Burney, Present State of Music in France and Italy, p. 365, 


The Gospels for the first two Sundays after Trinity are 
more than usually rich in deep and beautiful thoughts and 
in striking contrasts. The librettist unfortunately did not 
understand how to take advantage of this in the interests of 
music. In both he devotes his energies to didactic trivi- 
alities, which have but a loose connection with the Scriptural 
narratives, and might just as fitly have been written for 
many other Sundays. In the first cantata, " Die Elenden 
sollen essen, dass sie satt werden" 833 "The poor shall eat 
and be satisfied" (in E minor), reflections of a common-place 
kind are made, with reference to the story of the rich man 
and Lazarus, upon the worthless and transient character of 
earthly riches, upon Jesus as the essence of all good, upon 
a good conscience and contentment. Bach triumphs over 
this heterogeneous medley in four well contrasted arias, 
the first of which is ingeniously and fancifully built on the 
following motive : 


and in six recitatives. The chorale " Was Gott thut, das ist 
wohlgethan " " That which God doth, is still well done " 
plays an important part in the work. It appears first at the 
close of the first part, and in a new combination of 
Pachelbel's style, with that especially peculiar to Georg 
Bohm. 884 This movement is repeated again at the close of 
the second part, and a chorale fantasia 836 on the same 
melody serves as an introduction to the same part, not set 
for the organ, but for the string quartet with the trumpet the 
quartet taking the independent and polyphonic accompani- 
ment and the trumpet the chorale melody. The thread of 
the cantata, broken off by the sermon, could not be re-united 
in a more skilful or artistic manner. The introductory 
chorus, however, arouses the liveliest interest of all, 
speaking as it does in affecting tones of consolation in 
sorrow. The emotion of sorrow, as might have been 

888 B.-G-, XVIII., No. 75. P. No. 1670. 
See Vol. I., p. 206. See Vol. I., p. 6ic. 

2 A 2 


expected in Bach, is more or less prominent both in the 
orchestra which in the first movement of the chorus 
progresses independently in faltering pulsations and in 
the agonised and sustained melodies in the voice parts. 
But a promise of joy gleams brightly through the sorrow- 
ful sounds (compare especially bar 53 ff.) and in the 
broad theme of the fugal movement which follows : 

jfejpnrT p . p ' I ^ E *[||pJ-|-Lu*r r<| "gj 

Eu er Herz soil c - - wig-lich le ------- (ben) 

the sick and the weary soul inhales full draughts of the air 
which is to bring new life and health. But yet a certain 
veiled character predominates, and in the interrupted cadence 
(in bar 13 of the fugue) it has even a tone of piercing grief. 
From this point, however, all the forces of the music 
combine, and finally pass by a lovely modulation into 
D major; the major sixth which occurs in the soprano 
part, an interval strictly forbidden by the old rules for the 
formation of melodies, but used moderately often by Bach, 
has here a powerful effect of light and liberty. 

Not only in the division into two parts and the insertion 
of an instrumental movement, but also in the number of its 
choruses and chorales, its recitatives and arias, and the 
order in which these forms are arranged, the cantata (in 
C major) for the second Sunday after Trinity, "Die Himmel 
erzahlen die Ehre Gottes" 886 "The heavens declare the 
glory of God" agrees with the one just spoken of. Nay, 
the arias, whether intentionally or not, are in the same keys 
as those of the other work, their order alone being different. 
Here, again, the most important part of the whole is the first 
chorus, although scarcely any connection subsists between 
its words and the Gospel for the day. As before, the chorus 
consists of an opening section with free imitations and an 
independent instrumental accompaniment, agreeing with the 
other even in the time and of a fugue; there, however, the 
entry of the full choir is preceded by a movement for soprano 

B.-G., XVIII., No. 76, P. 1677. 


and alto, while here some of the basses begin alone. 887 
The resemblance is seen even in similar phrases (compare 
bars 24 ff of the C major, with bars 26 ff of the E minor 
cantatas). The whole piece is very full and brilliant, and 
the fugue theme is strong and vigorous. An effect noticed 
in the cantata "Ich hatte viel Bekiimmerniss" 888 is repeated 
here, and once again in a new work that we shall consider 
next in order to the present (" Ein ungefarbt Gemiithe"); 
the fugue is begun by solo voices, the tutti parts coming in 
gradually at the recurring entrances of the theme, giving the 
effect of a slow crescendo such as that produced on the organ 
by the gradual drawing out of more and more stops. This 
fugue also bears a resemblance to some of the earlier fugues, 
in that the trumpet is used as a fifth part in the working 
out. The chorale sung at the close of each part is set in 
a simple and familiar form. The instrumental movement at 
the beginning of the second part is a trio for oboe d'amore, 
viola da gamba, and double-bass, one of the forms of chamber 
music transferred to the church, of which we have already 
met with several examples in Bach. Bach, not long after, 
used this piece in one of his organ sonatas, 839 not, however, 
without considerable alterations. Many of these alterations 
are absolute improvements, in various ways, upon the older 
work ; the calmer basses and the generally lower position 
of the upper part reveal its devotional purpose, for the 
second part of the cantata was performed during the 
Communion. 840 

m Bach had at first intended to begin the chorus immediately with a fugue 
with an independent accompaniment on the instruments. This was to have 
been the theme : 

Die Himmel er - zah - - - - - - - len die Eh-re Got- tei. 

M8 Compare vol. I., p. 534. 

9 B.-G., XV., p. 40 ff. 

940 Both cantatas were well known in an altered and abridged form, the first 
beginning with the first recitative, under the title " Was hilft des Purpurs 
Majestat," and the second, as " Gott segne noch die treue Schaar," beginning 
with the opening of the second part. The latter was also used as a Refor- 
mation cantata. See Breitkopfs catalogue. Leipzig, Michaelmas, 1761, p. ao. 


It appears that Bach came again before the public with a 
new work fourteen days after this, on the fourth Sunday after 
Trinity (June 20) . 841 The librettist of the two former can- 
tatas could no longer satisfy him, so he turned back to 
Neumeister's poems, which he had tried and found success- 
ful. The text " Bin ungefarbt Gemiithe " " A pure and 
guileless spirit " taken from the fourth of the five year books 
of church cantatas, is elegant in versification but is anything 
but a model of poetic feeling. Bach viewed this didactic, 
prosaic dissertation in the light of his own musical imagina- 
tion. To the two arias which the cantata contains he set 
fine and affecting music; the first of these (F major), with 
which the work opens, delights the hearer with its pleasant 
and contented expression. This may be called a trio for 
violin, viola, and bass, and the second a quartet for two 
Oboi d'amore, viola, and bass, so little prominence is given 
to the voice part. This method was here necessary from 
the inferior quality of the text ; and from the relationship 
between the chief subject of the first aria and that of the last 
movement of the B minor sonata for violin and clavier, 842 it 
may be concluded that Bach was devoting himself now more 
especially to instrumental writing. The third number, a 
chorus on the text in Matt, vii., 12, " Alles nun, das ihr 
wollet " " Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that 
men should do to you, do ye even so to them " is very 
animated, energetic, and striking, especially in the double 
fugue, which forms its second part ; on the other hand, the 
short phrases in which the chorus and the orchestra answer 
one another at the beginning, remind us of the style of the 
older church cantatas, while bars n 18 have a resemblance 
to bars n 25 of the second chorus in Bach's earlier cantata 
" Ich hatte viel Bekiimmerniss." The closing chorale is 
simple in form, like that in the cantata "Jesus nahm zu sich 
dieZwolfe." 843 

For the seventh Sunday after Trinity (July n) in this year, 

B.-G., Vol. I., No. 24. 3 B.-G., IX., p. 80 ff. 

" See App. A., No. 21 


Bach chose a text from Franck's " Evangelische Sonn- und 
Festtags-Andachten," which had provided him with the 
groundwork of two compositions in Weimar. 844 Franck had 
intended it for the third Sunday in Advent, so that its adoption 
for another occasion involved the alteration of the first two 
arias. Recitatives, which do not usually occur in Franck's 
texts, were inserted, and in them we seem to discern the 
hand of the prolix compiler of the cantatas for the first and 
second Sundays after Trinity ; their insertion renders the 
text sufficiently long to serve for a cantata in two parts. 
The first chorus " Aergre dich o Seele nicht " (G minor) " Fret 
thyself no more, my soul " is remarkably short, dispensing 
with any full working out, such as we are accustomed to in 
Bach. After a prelude the chorus starts with a phrase of 
three bars, which by means of striking suspensions is 
intended to produce the impression of vexation and anger. 
In Bach's vocal pieces it may often be noticed that on the 
one hand their character is derived not so much directly 
from the text as from the church teaching for the Sunday, 
or some other more general poetic idea, often merely from 
the necessity of musical contrast ; while, on the other hand, 
certain special ideas provide the basis for characteristic 
musical subjects which direct and pervade the working out, 
giving outward colour rather than intrinsic purpose to the 
sentiment an intimate union of the general and the 
particular. This is the case here; for as the idea of vexation 
is only viewed negatively, it could give no character to 
the whole, but it did give occasion for an opening of great 
musical interest. In contrast to this, there now comes in a 
declaimed fugato on the same words, full of Bach's emphatic 
intensity ; the instruments are given an elaborate fugal 
movement on another theme in contrast to the air; the 
double-bass alone going on in its own course. After one 
working out, the close follows in D minor, and in a short 
homophonic phrase, the words which give the reason for 
those that have gone before are given out ; then the whole 
process is repeated in C minor, leading back to the original 

844 See Vol. I., pp. 570 and 642. 


key ; six bars more by way of epilogue, and the piece is at 
an end. In spite of the unusual and concise form, the 
emotional picture is complete ; we are sensible of the sure 
hand of a master not only in the elaborate detail, but in the 
whole structure. Altogether, the cantata, generally, stands 
above most of those that preceded it, and is worthy to 
rank with the cantata, " Du wahrer Gott." The recitatives 
are throughout very expressive, and at times deeply touching, 
especially the arioso endings ; particularly that of the second 
recitative with the anticipations of the harmony in the bass, so 
ingeniously contrived to impart colour to the accompaniment. 
The three arias vie with one another in depth and intensity 
of expression, but the gem of the solo numbers is a duet (in 
C minor) for soprano and alto, " Lass Seele kein Leiden von 
Jesu dich scheiden" " My soul, let no sorrow e'er part thee 
from Jesus." It is in the rhythm of a gigue, and has that 
melancholy grace which is peculiar to so many of Bach's 
pieces in dance-form. Lastly, the chorale with which the 
first part of the cantata closes is of great interest. Here, 
for the first time, we meet with the chorale fantasia since 
it was transferred to vocal music. In the cantata "Du 
wahrer Gott," Bach had indeed shown a predilection for 
this new production, but in the works which followed had 
gone back to the simpler forms. An instrumental piece, of 
a pious and innocent character, is played by the violins 
and flutes, with bass, answering each other; and the melody 
of " Es ist das Heil uns kommen her," steals in with the 
verse : 

Ob sichs anliess, als wollt er nicht, 

Lass dich es nicht erschrecken. 

Although He seems to will it not, 
Yet let not this affright thee. 

The cantus firmus is in the soprano, and the other voices have 
counterpoint, mostly imitation ; the melody in diminution. 
In the score there is no chorale at the close of the whole 
work, but, by analogy with the cantatas for the first and 
second Sundays after Trinity, it may be assumed with 
certainty that the chorale of the first part was to be repeated. 
Another of Franck's texts was set for the thirteenth Sun- 


day after Trinity (Aug. 22). It is, however, not quite certain 
whether this work was written before the following year, 
when it v/as performed first on the 3rd of September. But I 
consider the first to be the more probable date. 345 For 
this work Bach returned to the " Evangelische Andachts- 
Opfer," 846 the poetry of which was more suitable for music. 
The work is altogether without chorus, except at the very 
end, where a simple chorale is sung to the fifth verse of the 
hymn, " Herr Christ dereinig Gott's Sohn ""Lord Christ, 
the only Son of God." The Gospel narrates the parable of 
the Good Samaritan, and the whole musical work is full of 
Christian tenderness and compassion. In the first aria 
in G minor, " Ihr, die ihr euch von Christo nennet, wo 
bleibet die Barmherzigkeit " " Ye upon whom Christ's 
name is called, where is your love and charity " we seem to 
hear the Saviour Himself speaking, with divine tenderness 
and true human warmth of love and sympathy, yet not 
without a touch of sadness : 

Ihr, die ihr euch . . . von . . Chri - ato nen - net, 

In the second aria (in D minor), " Nur durch Lieb und durch 
Erbarmen werden wir Gott selber gleich " " Only by our love 
and pity are we made like God Himself" the Redeemer's 
teaching is applied by man to himself ; and in the third it is 
delivered with joyous conviction as a duet, and in a strain 
that seems to have originated from the melody of the first 
movement : 

"Hands not grudging, ever ready." These two themes are 
worked out with a persistency unusual even in Bach, for 
the most part in canon on the unison or the octave, and 
in the duet also in contrary motion; they are heard unceas- 
ingly, now in the voices, now in the instruments, like those 
words of St John, "Little children, love one another." 

* See App. A., No. 22. 
" See Vol. I., p. 540. 


The re-modelling of the beautiful Weimar cantata, 
" Wachet, betet," 347 can with moderate certainty be assigned 
to this year. Since no church music was performed in 
Leipzig on the last three Sundays in Advent, Bach employed it 
for the twenty-sixth Sunday after Trinity, as it fits the Gospel 
for that day very well. The alteration consists essentially 
in this, that by the insertion of recitatives and the chorale 
" Freu dich sehr, O meine Seele" "Now rejoice, O soul 
and Spirit " the work ? enlarged into a two-part cantata. 
To one recitative, one of the finest ever written by Bach, 
a chorale is added on the instruments, which raises the 
passionate personal emotion into the province of religious 
worship, while, on the other hand, it is enriched and 
individualised by it. Bach himself thought very highly of 
this cantata, and in later years performed it again and 
again. 848 

In addition to these eight cantatas there are yet two 
works, dating from the first year in Leipzig, which owe their 
existence to church ceremonies of an exceptional character. 
On the 24th of August in each year St. Bartholomew's 
Day the election of the new Town Council used to take 
place, and, on the Monday or Friday next following, a festival 
service was held before the members of the new Council 
took their seats. In the year 1723 this Monday fell on 
August 3O, 849 and for this occasion Bach wrote the festival 
cantata "Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn " 85 "Now praise 
the Lord, Jerusalem" a work equally remarkable for its 
vigorous and brilliant choruses and for its fervent and 
melodious solos. That the form of the work was intended 
for a festal occasion is shown very plainly by the character 
of the separate numbers. It opens with an overture in the 
French style, for the performance of which an orchestra 

847 See Vol. I., pp. 571 and 643. 

848 See Appendix A., No. 23. 

849 It was held on the Monday after St. Bartholomew's Day in the years 
1724, 1725, 1726, 1727, 1731, and 1739; and on the Friday in the years 1728, 
1729, "and 1730. See the deeds of the Council " Rathswahl betr. 1701, Vol. II.," 
and Niitzliche Nachrichten von Denen Bemuhungen derer Gelehrten und 
andern Begebenheiten in Leipzig. In the year 1739." P. 78. 

v B.-G., XXIV., No. 119. P. 1684. 


consisting of four trumpets, drums, two flutes, three oboes, 
string quartet, and organ is requisite. The splendidly 
pompous Grave movement is played by the instruments, 
till at the allegro (12-8) the chorus enters with the words 
of Psalm cxlvii. (12 14), worked out not so much in fugal 
style, as with free imitation and episodical use of the chief 
subject which was first given out by the bass ; this goes 
on until the recurrence of the Grave movement, played as 
before on the instruments alone, and filling the part of a 
postlude. It is not the first time that we meet with this 
bold transference of a thoroughly secular instrumental form 
into church music by Bach ; for the same thing is done 
in the cantata "Nun komm der Heiden," written for Leipzig 
in I7I4. 351 An essential difference is observable, however, in 
that the overture form in the earlier work is united with a 
chorale, and also that the voices take part in the Grave 
movement. The number of which we are speaking in this 
" Rathswahl " cantata inclines more strongly towards the 
secular side, because it comprises a chorus in free style, and 
more distinctly towards the instrumental side, in that the 
chorus does not take part in two of the chief sections into 
which the work is divided. This was allowable, since its 
purpose was not in the strictest sense devotional ; besides, a 
fundamental religious sentiment, if nothing more, is preserved 
throughout the allegro by the polyphonic style displayed in 
it, which is all Bach's own. No more sacred character than 
this would befit the recitatives and arias which follow, of 
which the words set forth the happy circumstances of the 
town of Leipzig. But for his amazing gift of pure musical 
invention, Bach would have found it almost impossible to 
produce such a charming piece as the second aria " Die 
Obrigkeit ist Gottes Gabe, ja selber Gottes Ebenbild" 
" Authority is God's ordaining, yea, and His image here on 
earth" for he could hardly have got his inspiration from the 
words. But whenever it was possible to get any poetic 
impulse from the text, he availed himself of it, as is shown 
by the first aria " Wohl dir, der Volk der Linden, wohl dir, 

See Vol. I., p. 507. 


der hast es gut " " O dwellers by the lime trees, O blest, O 
favoured race." There are few pieces of so agreeable and 
sunny a character as this ; the low oboes (Oboi da caccia) here 
employed by Bach lend it an idyllic character, yet a grave 
one as befitted the circumstances, so that it differs perceptibly 
from the aria of Pales in B flat from the cantata " Was mir 
behagt," 352 which in other respects it closely resembles in 
feeling. This aria (in G major) is joined to the second (in 
G minor), which we have already mentioned, by an entirely 
separate movement; a piercing trumpet call introduces a 
bass recitative "So herrlich stehst du, liebe Stadt" "So 
fair thou art, beloved town " which is then accompanied by 
sustained harmonies on the two flutes and two English 
horns, in addition to the figured bass, the jubilant trumpet 
call recurring at the close; the strings are silent during 
this movement. After the G minor aria the whole body 
of instruments and voices reunite immediately in a splendid 
movement cast in the form of the da capo aria. The first 
section consists of a fugue, whose theme : 

The Lord hath done great things for us 

is apparently found from the first line of the chorale " Nun 
danket alle Gott." Such an independent use as this of 
parts of a chorale melody is extremely rare in Bach (in the 
motett " Nun danket alle Gott " he once did something 
similar to this) ; the chorale was to him consecrated, as it 
were, to the church, and where he introduces it he is wont 
to set it unaltered as the central point of his own com- 
position. In departing from his usual method in this case, 
he doubtless felt impelled by the mingled sacred and secular 
character of the whole work. The second section of the 
cantata forms, in its homophony, a contrast to the first ; a 
motive of vocal character given out by the trumpets in the 
instrumental ritornels : 

See Vol. I., p. 566. 


is worked out in this section with great skill. The strictly 
devotional feeling finds its first expression at the close of the 
cantata in a few lines from " Herr Gott dich loben wir." 

During the years 1722-3, the Church of Stormthal near 
Leipzig had been restored, and at the same time a new 
organ had been erected, the building of which had been 
undertaken by Zacharias Hildebrand, a pupil of Gottfried 
Silbermann, for 400 thalers. A certain Kammerherr von 
Fullen, who was resident at Stormthal, had provided the 
requisite sum of money, and after the completion of the 
work requested Bach to try the instrument. On Novem- 
ber 2, the Tuesday after the twenty-third Sunday after 
Trinity, a public service took place for the dedication of the 
organ, and Bach wrote a cantata for the occasion : " Hochst 
erwiinschtes Freudenfest " "Hail, thou longed-for feast of 
joy" and conducted the performance himself. The organ, 
" certified " by him " as an excellent and durable instrument 
and highly commended," is in existence in all its essential 
parts to this day ; it underwent thorough repair in 1840 
at the hands of the organ builder, Kreuzbach, who at the 
same time expressed himself favourably with regard to the 
organ. It says a great deal for the respect in which 
Bach's person and name were and are still held in 
Saxony, that the tradition of his having been at Stormthal 
has remained there through more than a century and a 
half. 853 The cantata, which Bach must have taken his 
forces from Leipzig to perform, is written with especial care, 
owing, perhaps, to the high position of the personage who 
had given him the order. 864 It is, moreover, of intrinsic 
importance, and Bach, who always liked to turn the com- 
positions written for special occasions to account for his 
regular duties, subsequently arranged it for Trinity Sunday, 
and often performed it in its altered shape on that day. 
We may learn much from comparing this work with the 

168 This was told me by Pastor Ficken, of Stormthal, to whose kindness I also 
owe the extract given above from the accounts of the church there. 

364 Both the autograph score and the original parts are in the Royal Library in 
Berlin. To the parts is appended the text printed on a folio sheet. 


" Rathswahl " Cantata. Here, again, there is no strictly 
devotional purpose, and the fundamental forms are even 
more thoroughly secular, although purified and adapted to 
church use. The opening again consists of an overture in 
the French style, and the way in which the voices take 
part is similar, excepting that when the grave recurs at the 
close, they are introduced in the last bar, to heighten the 
whole effect. Besides this the allegro is here a true fugato, 
and the interrupting trio-passages are not omitted, so that 
the overture style is more strictly adhered to, even in detail. 
By the continual recurrence of the chief subject : 


the first aria has in some degree the character of a rondo, 
though the aria-form is retained. The second aria is entirely 
in the rhythm of a gavotte : 

ifc- p " j ^ ' ii Lj * 

The third keeps up the character of a gigue against the 
following theme used as a bass ritornel : 









r i*'_T r' j 

g ! H 1 


Finally, the fourth has the movement of a minuet : 

2 Oboes. 





Thus we have here the remarkable phenomenon of a cantata 
in the form of an orchestral suite, except that recitatives 
are introduced and that each of the two sections closes 
with a chorale. Bach probably intended in this way to 
suit the taste of the noble patron of the church at 
Stormthal, just as he had suited that of the Leipzig 
people with his trial cantata ; for, under Augustus the 
Strong, French music was in great favour at the Court of 
Dresden. In so doing Bach did nothing whatever against 
his natural instinct, which was to weld together in his 
own style all the musical forms of the time. It was, there- 
fore, in no way unsuitable when he subsequently performed 
this " organ dedication " cantata on Trinity Sunday. It is 
not undevotional, and yet it lacks that highest degree of 
sacredness which can only be given when the composer's 
imagination is set in motion by an event of universal 
importance to the Christian church. 

Bach had entered on his post in the ferial portion of the 
ecclesiastical year. Remarkable as was the activity dis- 
played by him as a church composer during this period, 
yet he had no opportunity of showing himself in his full 
greatness until the beginning of the ecclesiastical year 
1723-1724. It is self-evident that he would celebrate the 
first occurrence of the festal days as far as possible with 
music of his own. On this assumption we can, with 
moderate certainty, assign most of the festal cantatas to 
this year. On his first Christmas Day in Leipzig, the chief 
music was his cantata " Christen atzet diesen Tag in 
Metall und Marmorsteine " " Christians, grave ye this 
great day In brass and stone that will not perish." 856 
The particular emotion of the composition is revealed in a 

* B.-G., XVI., No. 63. 


duet occurring in it for alto and tenor. The words are as 
follows : 

Ruft und fleht den Himmel an, 

Kommt ihr Christen, kommt zum Reihen, 

Ihr sollt euch an dem erfreuen, 

Was Gott hat anheut gethan. 

Come, ye Christians, praise and pray, 
Come with singing, come with dancing, 
With your joy and praise enhancing 
That which God hath done to-day. 

The universal feeling of Christmas joy seems thus drama- 
tised by the image of a festal procession mingling in 
sacred dances, and, as it were, obeying the commands of 
the Psalmist : " Praise Him in the cymbals and dances ; 
praise Him upon the strings and pipe." The festal dance, 
represented by a graceful waving figure in the duet, comes 
out powerfully and splendidly in the ritornels of the first 
chorus. Without deviating from this character the chorus 
itself is formed from quite different melodies which are 
worked out very effectively in canon ; it contains exhortations 
to Christmas rejoicing, and as each section is concluded the 
jubilant dance again breaks forth immediately. The last 
chorus, too, is influenced by the same idea, which, however, 
is soon changed ; for the festal procession crowding together 
seems bowed in devout adoration before God; this is repre- 
sented by a very characteristic double fugue full of fervent and 
intense expression. In the second part of the chorus another 
double fugue corresponds to this on the words " Lass es 
niemals nicht geschehn," &c. " Let it never come to pass 
that Satan shall torment us " which is coloured by the 
dramatic expression suggested by the word " torment." The 
other numbers of the cantata, two recitatives and a skilfully 
worked duet for soprano and bass, are of a more general 
religious character ; their subjects, which are peculiar to 
themselves, being prolonged and developed in the oboe and 
instrumental bass parts. For the rest, the style of the 
work unmistakably approaches that of oratorio, and this it 
is which makes it especially remarkable among Bach's 
cantatas, although it has a very considerable amount of 


intrinsic musical value. It is noticeable that there is no 
chorale throughout. 866 

On high festivals, after the sermon, the Sanctus was sung 
in a florid style as an introduction to the Communion 
(ante, p. 270). There are a number of such Sanctuses 
composed by Bach, one of which I believe may be identified 
as that composed for Christmas Day, 1723. Like the 
cantata, it is in C major, and the instrumentation is almost 
the same; it is remarkable for its bright festal character, 
which culminates in the Pleni sunt coeli et terra 1 

The performance of the cantata "Christen atzet diesen 
Tag," with its attendant Sanctus, took place during the 
morning service, and was sung by the first choir in the 
Nikolaikirche. In the evening the cantata was repeated by 
the same choir in the Thomaskirche ; and after the sermon 
the hymn of the Virgin was sung, set in its Latin form and 
in an elaborate style. For this purpose Bach wrote his 
great Magnificat, which, since it has become generally 
known, has rightly been reckoned one of the highest inspira- 
tions of his genius. 868 For the occasion of the festival of 
Christmas, for which it was intended, Bach expanded the 
Bible text by inserting four vocal numbers in suitable 
places, the words of which bore especial reference to the 
Leipzig form of service. These are (i) The opening verse 
of the hymn " Vom Himmel hoch " ; (2) the verse " Freut 
euch und jubilirt, Zu Bethlehem gefunden wird Das 
herzeliebe Jesulein, Das soil euer Freud und Wonne sein " 
"Rejoice with pious mind, To Bethlehem go now and find 
The fair and holy new-born Boy, Who is your comfort, 
peace, and joy"; (3) the Gloria in excelsis Deo; (4) the lines 
Virgo, Jesse floruit, Emanuel nosier apparuit, Induit carnem 
hominis, Fitpuer delectabilis. Alleluja. Although these words 
are some German, some Latin, and have no outward 
connection of form, yet Kuhnau had built upon them a 

" See App. A., No. 24. 

"' B.-G., XI., 1 p. 69 ff. See App. A., No. 19. 

861 B.-G., XI., 1 p. 3 ff, is the form in which it was afterwards cast by Bach. 
It was published in its original form by N. Simrock, at Bonn, in the year 1811. 
P. 40. 

II. 2 B 


Christmas cantata, retaining the exact order given above. 859 
They are very suitable in feeling, for they give a kind 
of dramatic character to the events of the Christmas 
night. Several points of detail go to prove that Bach took 
the words directly from Kuhnau's cantata. One of these is 
in the form of the Angel's song Gloria in excelsis. The Greek 
words rat 7rt y?/e "p^jj, ev avdpuTToie fvSoKia are wrongly rendered 
in the Vulgate by the words ei in terra pax hominibus bones 
voluntatis. The meaning of this will be either " Peace on 
earth to men of good-will," or " Peace on earth to the men 
with whom God is well pleased," while the true meaning is 
(as in our English version) " Peace on earth, and good will 
towards men," as Luther rightly translated it (Friede auf 
Erden und den Menschen ein Wohlgefallen). The Vulgate 
version, however, is nearly always retained, even in Protestant 
churches, when the words are set to music. The cantors, 
who for the most part build their texts on the model 
of the Romish composers, were severely blamed by the 
theologians for thus introducing errors or stamping them 
with their approval, whether from ignorance or negligence; 
but it was justly answered that from the musician's stand- 
point the Vulgate version had a more melodious rhythm. 860 
Kuhnau, however, had amended the reading of the Vulgate 
in the cantata referred to, replacing it by the words bonce 
voluntates in accordance with the Greek; and Bach, who in 
all his other Glorias retained the words bonce voluntatis, here 
follows the correct reading. So far, however, as we may 
gather from the musical phrasing, either the sense was not 
quite clear to him or he felt himself raised above and beyond 
it by the greatness of his musical ideas; for he phrases the 
words thus : et in terra pax hominibus, bona voluntas, approach- 
ing near to the original sense, but not quite reaching it; so 
that we may perceive that the Vulgate version was running 
in his head, and that he set the texts given to him as a 
whole, without paying any especial heed to the theological 

889 The cantata exists in the separate parts in the Town Library at Liepzig. 
860 S. Rango, Von der Musica, alien und neuen Liedern, &c. Greiffswald, 
1694, p. 22 li 


battles which raged round him. A second piece of evidence 
is found in the lines Virgo, Jesse, &c. This is a fragment of 
a longer Christmas hymn, given by Vopelius in its entirety. 861 
It runs thus : 

Virgo, Jesse floruit, The stem of Jesse hath flourished, 

Emanuel noster apparuit, Our Emanuel hath appeared, 

Induit carnem hominis, And hath put on human flesh, 

Fit puer delectabilis. And become a lovely child. 

Domum pudici pectoris The home of the Virgin chaste 

Ingreditur Salvator et Receives the Saviour and 

Autor huntani generis. Creator of the human race. 

Ubi natus est Rex gloria ? Where is the King of glory born ? 

Pastores, dicite ! Ye shepherds, say ? 

In Bethlehem Juda. In Bethlehem Juda. 

Sause, 862 liebes Kindelein, Slumber, little baby dear, 

Eya, Eya, Eya, Eya, 

Zu Bethlehem Juda. In Bethlehem Juda. 

Virga Jesse floruit, The stem of Jesse hath flourished, 

Emanuel noster apparuit, Our Emanuel hath appeared, 

Induit carnem hominis, And hath put on human flesh, 

Fit puer delectabilis, And become a lovely child, 

Alleluja I Alleluja ! 

Kuhnau only used the last four lines, and it would have 
been more than strange if Bach had hit upon the same 
fragment quite independently. But the order in which Bach 
inserted the four passages into the Magnificat is precisely 
that adopted by Kuhnau. This is not the last time that we 
shall see Bach treading in Kuhnau's foot-prints, as in this 
instance. Just as he cherished and revered the traditions 
of his family, and was always ready to learn whatever he 
could from the works of older and contemporary masters, so 
now, when a great master had preceded him, it was foreign 
to his nature to study to appear as an innovator, or, trusting 
in his own power, to leave the work of his predecessor dis- 
regarded. It is true that his inmost nature was different 
from Kuhnau's, and his adherence to his method of working 
could only be superficial ; it is, however, none the less 

M1 Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch, 1682, p. 77 ff. 

862 Meaning to " sing in sleep," or " sing one's self asleep," still remaining 
in ordinary use in the low-German " susen." 

2 B 2 


important for the understanding of Bach's character. In this 
instance Kuhnau's Christmas music was connected with 
certain Leipzig church customs which must have been 
interesting to Bach, for their own sake. The Latin- 
German Christmas hymn above quoted is, in part at least, 
a lullaby sung at the cradle of Christ, and, since it was 
included by the Leipzig Cantor, Vopelius, in his Leipzig 
hymn book, it must have been in ordinary use there. It 
was an old Christian custom to place a manger in the 
church, and to perform the events of Christmas night as a 
drama or mystery. Boys represented the angels and pro- 
claimed the birth of the Saviour, and then priests entered as 
the shepherds and drew near to the manger ; others asked 
what they had seen there (Pastores, dicite) ; they gave answer 
and sung a lullaby at the manger. Mary and Joseph were 
also represented : Mary asks Joseph to help her to rock the 
Child ; he declares himself ready, and the shepherds sing a 
song. 863 This custom of " Kindleinwiegen," as it was called, 
traces of which have remained into the present century, 
was in full force in the beginning of the previous century 
in Leipzig. It was one of the customs which the Council 
wished to abolish in the year I702. 864 That their proposal 
met with but little favour has already been told. This 
particular custom of " Kindleinwiegen " actually survived 
to Bach's day, for we find a lullaby in his Christmas 
Oratorio. As it is spoken of in connection with Laudes, 
it can only have taken place at the close of the service in 
the Nikolaikirche. The cradle hymn which used to be 
used on this occasion is the old and favourite one, "Joseph, 
lieber Joseph mein, hilf mir wiegen mein Kindelein." 886 It 
is evident that the hymn Virgo, Jesse floruit must have been 
intended for the same purpose. That it was actually so 

868 Compare Weinhold, Weihnacht-Spiele und Lieder. Graz., 1870, p. 47 ff. 

884 "That sundry fanciful Latin Responsoria, Antiphonce, Psalms, hymni and 
Collects, as also the generally so-called Laudes at Christmas time with the 
' Joseph, lieber Joseph mein,' and ' Kindlein wiegen, 1 be henceforth discontinued 
in public service." See ante, p. 264. 

866 It is reprinted in Schoberlein.Schatz des liturgischen Chor- und Gemeinde- 
gesanges. Part II., p. 164 ft". 


used in the Leipzig Christmas service is not, indeed, 
expressly stated ; but we may assume it with certainty. So 
much at any rate is clear; the words put together by 
Kuhnau for a Christmas cantata and adopted by Bach reflect 
the simple old custom, still popular at that time in Leipzig, 
of representing dramatically in church the angelic message 
and the adoration of the shepherds ; but in a more ideal way, 
being, as it were, its poetic and musical counterpart. 
Viewed in this light, Bach's Magnificat gains a special 
meaning, which lends a greater depth to the feeling of this 
mighty composition. If we compare the four pieces he 
inserted which form a contrast to it both by their partly 
German text and by their substance with the materials 
and forms used in the principal body of the work itself, we 
shall perceive a striking difference. With the exception of 
the Gloria, which to a certain degree requires the assistance 
of the instruments, all these pieces are accompanied only 
by a figured bass. 866 It had long been a favourite custom 
in the Lutheran church to sing the music on Christmas 
night with antiphonal changes, whether between the choir 
and the people or between a large and a small choir, these 
being usually placed at a distance from each other. 867 This 
custom, originally followed with only short sections of hymns, 
gradually grew as time went on, until longer pieces were 
performed in this way. In Leipzig itself performances with 
responsive choirs were of no unusual occurrence (comp. ante, 
p. 284). Now the Thomaskirche, where the Magnificat was 
first performed, contained a smaller organ built above the 
" high choir," so that it was opposite to the great organ. 
We know that this was only used on high festivals. It 
evidently then was used for no other purpose than for these 
alternating antiphonal performances of vocal music. From 
this I gather that Bach, when he brought his Magnificat to 
a hearing, made these four Christmas hymns sound down 
from the smaller organ loft, the contracted dimensions of 

aw j n vom Himmel hoch " the bass is not once figured, showing that the 
organ took no share in the accompaniment. 
K1 Examples are given in Schoberlein, loc. cit., p. 52 f. and 96 f. 


which admitted only a small band of singers and few 
instrumentalists. This is the easiest way of explaining the 
arrangement of the score and his subsequent treatment 
of these numbers. They certainly seem to have been 
composed at the same time as the Magnificat, and intended 
to form one with it, but Bach did not write them in 
the score in the places they were intended to occupy. 
In the autograph score they run consecutively, from the 
twelfth page, along the bottom stave, below the Magnificat, 
and are marked with references to the points at which they 
are to be inserted. If they were to be sung from the smaller 
organ-loft they could only be performed in the Thomas- 
kirche ; in the Nikolaikirche, where the great musical per- 
formance took place in the afternoon of the second day of 
Christmas, they had to be omitted altogether, since there 
was no similar situation in the church from which to sing 
them. And further : since an elaborate Magnificat was sung 
both at Easter and Whitsuntide, and Bach intended his 
work to be available for these feasts also (besides this, so 
far as we know, he only wrote a small Magnificat for soprano 
solo, which is not known to exist), and since these interlude 
numbers were only suitable for Christmas time, it is con- 
ceivable that in a later recension of the work he should 
leave them out altogether. 868 

The Magnificat is written for five-part chorus with accom- 
paniment of organ, strings, two oboes, three trumpets, and 
drums, to which two flutes are added in the later recension. 
The opening chorus is set only to the words Magnificat anima 
mea Dominum. Its external form is that of the Italian aria, 
but is only thoroughly intelligible when reference is made 
to the concerto form. The instrumental introduction has 
less the character of a ritornel than that of a concerto tutti. 

*** The autograph scores of the work, both in its first conception and in its 
altered form, are in the Royal Library at Berlin. In the latter the work is 
transposed from E flat to D, besides which it is enriched in respect of 
orchestration ; the part-writing is elaborated here and there, and in several 
places it is made more complete in other respects, or else altered. This 
alteration took place about 1730. On the lost smaller Magnificat, see Rust in 
the Preface to B.-G., XI., 1 p. xviii. And Appendix A., No. 24. 


We have already seen how Bach developed and re-modelled 
the concerto form, 869 and how it was one of his chief objects 
to study in Cothen, and from this circumstance it is very 
natural that having just come from thence he should use 
the form which had become so familiar to him there. There 
are not two contrasting subjects, but the whole material is 
exhibited in the tutti, the jubilant character of which is 
indicated by this motive: 87 

But in the treatment of the chorus with regard to the 
orchestra, the concerto idea is shown in the plainest way 
possible. The first entry of the chorus follows this like 
that of a solo, accompanied only by a figured bass, and its 
melodic form accords with the opening of the tutti just as is 
the case in the real concerto. Two bars later the instru- 
mental tutti comes in anew, but breaks off after two bars to 
allow the choir to be heard alone in another subject taken 
likewise from the tutti. 871 It then continues its course 
until the sixteenth bar of its united progress with the 
chorus, but so that the latter is the subordinate element 
as regards musical importance. It follows the course of the 
instrumental parts, now in unison and now in octaves; not 
indeed renouncing its independence altogether, but freeing 
itself and then becoming re-united to the instrumental parts 
in passages of the most wonderful lightness; but the chorus 
is here by no means a musical factor of equal importance 
with the orchestra, as it is, for example, in the opening 
chorus of the cantata "Argre dich o Seele nicht"; it only 
gives definiteness to the poetic emotion though it indeed 
does this in the most decisive way possible. In the second 
section the conditions are changed. Here the chorus 
predominates even in respect of the music, the subject 

369 See ante, p. 125. 

870 I quote in the key of the later recension. 

871 Compare with this the first movement of the violin concerto in E, B.-G., 
XXI.,1 p. 21 ff. 


of its second entry being diligently worked out, while the 
orchestra comes in again in concerto style in little snatches 
taken from the great tutti. The third section is like the 
first, excepting that the working out leads from the sub- 
dominant into the original key; the last fifteen bars of the 
instrumental tutti form a postlude. 

To appreciate Bach's power of building new forms, we 
must compare with this the chorus in the cantata " Wer sich 
selbst erhohet" in which concerto-like elements are worked 
in, as they are here. 873 The aria for second soprano which 
now follows Et exultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo 
is in the same key a rare thing with Bach. It carries out 
the feeling expressed in the opening, but transfers it from 
the region of general joy and exultation to that of the 
quieter and more childlike joy of Christmas. We know the 
way in which this feeling is expressed by Bach too well 
not to recognise it here. 878 In order to leave no doubt of 
the composer's intention, this aria is immediately followed 
by the chorale "Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her," the 
first of the inserted numbers. The Cantus firmus lies in the 
soprano; it is in four parts, in Pachelbel's form, and treated 
with evident love and delight; the counterpoint is through- 
out formed from the lines of the melody in diminution, and 
treated imitatively with great art, except that in a few cases 
the harmonies are somewhat daring. This number is also 
in the principal key, forming one group with the two that 
preceded it. We must bear in mind, too, that the chorale 
"Vom Himmel hoch" was one of the hymns usually sung 
before the sermon, on Christmas Eve, by the congregation, 
if we are to appreciate the effect it must have produced 
when it came in, sounding down from the top of the church 
in the midst of the Latin songs, which were inaccessible t<? 
the direct sympathies of the congregation. 

Now another style begins. An aria for the first soprano 

* r * See ante, p. 13. 

178 See Vol. I., pp. 510 and 561, and in the Christmas oratorio (B.-G., V. 1 ) 
especially the chorale, p. 37 ff. In the Simrock edition of the score of the 
Magnificat, the last four bars of the opening ritornel are omitted, it would seem 
by oversight. 


gives out the words Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae. 
Ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent (omnes generationes) . The 
fact that the church, from the earliest times, included the 
Song of the Virgin in the liturgy, divested it of its personal 
character, and Bach, as his work shows, viewed it in its 
broadest signification. On the other hand, he was tempted 
by the operatic forms of church music to give it individuality. 
Whenever this occurs and we shall often have occasion to 
notice it the treatment is never dramatic throughout, but is 
confined to a single number of the work. This subjective 
tendency was one of his chief motives,, in musical com- 
position. Bach always pierced deep into all the Biblical 
and ecclesiastical relations of his texts, in order to gain 
suggestions for new forms in art; but it was his sense of 
musical connection or contrast which ultimately ruled his 
choice. In Bach's compositions, even though we may not 
perceive the inmost motives of each separate part, we 
always receive the impression of a musical organism 
rounded, complete, and intelligible in itself; interpolations, 
which are otherwise than obvious and easily understood, are 
never so important as to disturb the harmony of the whole, 
like an unsolved enigma. We saw in Bach's solos that an 
outward smoothness of form, moulded by a master's hand, 
conceals a passionate and ever-varying emotion; and here 
again, in the midst of a work made up of many parts, and 
whose aim appears to be simple and clear, we discover a 
store of varied powers; it is only by the discovery of these 
powers that we can thoroughly appreciate Bach's spirit, 
with its own individual impulse and activity. The feeling 
of the first aria was innocent Christmas rejoicing; in the 
second the composer is inspired by the idea of the Mother 
of God. Scarcely ever has the idea of virgin purity, 
simplicity, and humble happiness found more perfect 
expression than in this German picture of the Madonna, 
translated, as it were, into musical language. Somewhat 
allied to this in fundamental feeling is the aria in B minor 
from the cantata "Alles was von Gott geboren," 874 but the 

4 See Vol. I., p. 563. 


direct reference to a particular individual and the effect of 
the oboe d'amore in the accompaniment give this aria of 
the Magnificat a greater intensity of feeling and a quite 
different character. The words omnes generationes are not 
sung by the soprano, but are taken up by the whole choir; 
thus the dramatic fiction, which gave the aria its peculiar 
character, is here again discarded. The choral movement 
composed on these two words alone is not less deeply felt, 
though it is conceived in another way, as representing the 
entrance of an innumerable company of people moved by 
one and the same idea. It is very characteristic of Bach 
that this idea is not cast in the form of a hymn of praise, as 
the preceding words might have suggested. This perhaps 
might have been Handel's method ; but Bach, with his less 
subjective nature, represents only the idea of a great and 
universal movement. By the theme not entering alone, but 
being always surrounded by three moving parts, we are 
flung, as it were, into the midst of the throng. The work- 
ing out is not fugal: at first the different parts seize upon 
the chief subject as it comes within their range ; they 
overtop one another in gradually ascending entries ; and 
at last they build themselves up in canon on a dominant 
pedal. A gifted editor of the Magnificat has expressed his 
opinion that Bach meant here to represent the all-conquer- 
ing power of Christianity driving the nations against one 
another in deadly battle. 875 I cannot go so far as this, 
chiefly because a movement with this character does not 
seem to me to suit the object of the whole work, which is 
to represent the joy of the Christmas festival. And I have 
found that the character of this chorus in performance, 
although grave and mighty in its rush and flow, is yet not 
properly speaking wild or vehement. Bach, following his 
musical nature, gives to movements of this kind a more 
excited character than others as, for instance, Handel 
would have done. Certain alterations made in this particular 
movement, in the later recension, seem to me to be especially 

878 Robert Franz in his thoughtful little pamphlet : Mittheilungen iiber 
Johann Sebastian Bach's " Magnificat." Halle, Karmrodt. 1863. 


instructive. In bars 6 and following from the end, the bass 
was originally this : 

nes, om - nes, om - nes, ge - ne - ra - ti - o - nes : 

on the pause the second soprano remained on d", the 
instruments keeping silence until the entry of the last bar 
but one. And in bar 3 from the beginning the expression 
was harsher, this being the original passage in the bass 
part : 

(getter a tio) 

We cannot suppose that Bach meant to express any different 
feeling by the two versions. Nor can technical reasons 
account for the alterations. He must rather have found 
that the expression had, here and there, exceeded its limits 
and required moderating. 876 

The bass aria, constructed on a basso quasi ostinato, 
that reminds us of Bohm Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens 
est et sanctum nomen ejus : " He that is mighty hath 
magnified me and holy is His name " breathes a fresh 
joyfulness into the feeling of the music, which in the last 
movement had become graver, and leads up to the Angels' 
song " Freut euch und jubilirt " " Rejoice and be ye glad"- 
which ends a second group. This hymn, for only two 
soprani, alto, and tenor, is full of imagery ; its seems to 

878 I take this opportunity of drawing attention to a clerical error in this 
chorus, on Bach's own part in the writing out of the later recension, which 
error has been transferred to the edition of the Bach Gesellschaft. In bar 6, 
the second half of the alto part runs as follows : 

But as is shown both by the accompanying first flute and by the older score in 
the alto part, it should be : 


float in a realm of light above the dimmer earth ; a fifth 
part is given to the continuo. Bach may perhaps have had 
in his mind the old custom when boys, dressed as angels, 
sang Christmas hymns in the festival service. This beauti- 
ful piece bears a remarkable resemblance to Kuhnau's work ; 
in Bach the theme of the first section is as follows : 

jg-A at r F^H-TJ* E- i r r i r u" LT i r = 

Ho Freut euch und ju - bi - lirt, freut euch und ju - bi - lirt, 

in Kuhnau : 


Freut euch und 

ju - bi - lirt, 

'"ii i i n 


^' r 

The intermediate subject in both is full of deep feeling 
Kuhnau indicates it as affetuoso and the finale in both is a 
regular fugato, though Bach has carried it out the more 
thoroughly. The mercifulness of God is praised in a very 
melodious duet for the alto and tenor in E minor, almost 
homophonous throughout, with an accompaniment of violins 
con sordini, and flutes ; the words timentibus eum " On them 
that fear Him " offer an opportunity for closing with an elabo- 
rate and picturesque treatment of a very interesting character. 
As a contrast to this, the chorus Fecit potentiam represents 
the power of the Almighty bringing the pride of man to 
nothingness ; and then, for the third time, the treatment 
leads up to a hymn sung by celestial beings, in the Latin 
Gloria in excelsis Deo. The chorus Fecit potentiam " The 
Lord hath shewed strength " displays in its principal theme 
a sort of sweeping and irresistible energy, with a peculiar 
crushing force in the accompanying chords and the rhythm 
of the instrumental bass. There is a poetical detail worthy 
of note in the way in which the instruments, divided into 
two portions, imitate the contrapuntal melody of the upper 
part : 

Fe - cit po - ten - ti - am 

at the third note in contrary motion, as if to represent 


the idea that there is no escape from the hand of the Lord. 
Among other striking details, the attention is especially 
rivetted by the closing Adagio, where the idea of arrogance 
is expressed with forcible verisimilitude by the pompous, 
widely spread notes of the dispersed chord. Here again we 
have an instance where the separate words of the text are 
taken advantage of to serve as the motive for a peculiarly 
effective musical close. In after years Bach composed a 
Magnificat in German 877 (in part paraphrased) for the Festival 
of the Visitation, in which the same portion of the text gave 
him the opportunity for an equally picturesque setting. It 
is in recitative and contains a very elaborate Melisma, which 
was a favourite way of concluding recitatives. 878 

A fourth group is composed of two arias and the verse 
" Virgo, Jesse " set as a duet. The first aria has a very 
vigorous, nay resolute, character; it has undergone many 
alterations in the process of re-arrangement, resting partly 
on practical grounds only, and by no means invariably 
striking as improvements. In the second aria, which was 
conceived in a softer vein of feeling, flutes were introduced 
by Bach, even in its first state. An expression of longing is 
stamped very beautifully on the principal idea by a striking 
turn of the rhythm : 

C ^ C 

B - su - ri - en - let 

The abrupt close an illustration of the words dimisit inanes 
"sent empty away" is an innovation in the second treat- 
ment ; originally the flutes were carried on to the last note. 
The final bars of the duet are lost ; the voices rise and fall 

" B.-G. I., No. 10. 

* 78 Franz suggests (op. cit., p. 19) that Bach had by mistake attributed the 
words of the Vulgate mente cordis sui to God, for it would have been a great 
fault in taste to emphasise the idea of arrogance by the display of the sublimest 
means of expression at his command. Such a mistake is, however, hardly con- 
ceivable in a man so versed in his Bible as Bach, and even in classical Latin 
sui would be right. To me the feeling of the extended chord is quite clear ; 
the impulse which led Bach up to this Adagio close was not derived from the 
individual passage, which only serves to colour its expression, but from the 
fundamental idea of the whole. 


above a slow and lulling continue which, as in the aria 
Quia fecit, is quasi ostinato. 

Up to this point a simple Christmas joy has been the 
ruling idea through all the various movements, but when 
the last Christmas hymn, properly speaking, has died away 
a new element of feeling comes into play. At Vespers a 
sermon was to be preached on the Epistle, which enlarges 
on the work of Redemption as being the final aim of 
Christ's incarnation. The only words which distinctly refer 
to this in the Magnificat are in the verse Suscepit Israel 
puerum suum recordatus misericordiae suae. Their suggestive- 
ness did not escape Bach's notice. He takes them for 
a chorale arrangement, in which two soprani and an alto 
voice have the counterpoint, while a trumpet (or in the 
second arrangement two oboes) softly plays the old church 
melody to the Magnificat. Much has been said as to the 
idea conveyed by this particular form. 879 Bach employs it 
when he desires to give utterance to a mystical and abstract 
emotion. In his German Magnificat he has treated the 
same passage in the same way, with evident reference to 
this previous composition. But the effect produced is not 
precisely similar, because the chorale has already been 
introduced and re-appears again at the close. In the Latin 
Magnificat the chorale does not occur anywhere but in this 
place ; the unexpected melody, therefore, sounds doubly 
suggestive, pathetic, and melancholy ; though the whole 
number, from its high position, is singularly translucent 
and visionary. It steals into the midst of the happy 
triumph which has hitherto possessed our feelings, as a 
shadow glides across a sunlit meadow, but the original 
sentiment is immediately restored by a powerful five-part 
fugue without concertante instruments. The Magnificat is 
closed, according to the custom of the church, with the 
usual Doxology, Gloria Patri et Filio, &c. Bach has set 
the threefold Gloria to grand rolling passages in triplets, 
towering up in repeated imitations, and sinking to rest in 
broad harmonies a composition of exceptional grandeur 

See Vol. I., pp. 459 and 544. 


and power. In Sicut erat he returns to the opening chorus, 
reconstructing its principal motives into a gorgeous and 
glowing whole. 

The part played by the Magnificat in the evening service 
determined the form of this composition. A cantata was 
performed before the sermon, and, if the service was not 
to be made too long for custom and convenience, Bach 
could not allow himself to expatiate too largely on his musical 
ideas; all the more so because he proposed to extend the 
text by introducing four Christmas hymns. The Magnificat 
is consequently emphatically distinct from the rest of Bach's 
grand church compositions by the compactness and concen- 
trated power of the separate numbers particularly of the 
choruses by the lavish use of the means at command, and 
by its vividly emotional and yet not too agitating variety. 
It stands at the entrance of a new path and a fresh 
period of his productivity, at once full of significance in 
itself and of promise for the future development of the 
perennial genius which could always re-create itself from 
its own elements. 

If the cantata for the first day of Christmas had seemed 
to resuscitate that side of Christianity which rejoices with 
mirth and dancing before the altars of the healing Godhead, 
and if in the Magnificat the popular feeling of Christmas 
festivity had found its expression against a background, as 
it were, of simple festal usages, in the cantata "Dazu ist 
erschienen," which was probably composed for the second 
day of Christmas, 1723, we see Christ represented as the 
radiant hero sent into the world to conquer the powers of 
darkness. 380 "That was the true light which lighteth every 
man that cometh into the world. . . . And the Word 
was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we behold His 
glory, the glory as of the only begotten son of the Father, 
full of grace and truth." The cantata is made to illus- 
trate these fundamental ideas of the Gospel, and some of 
these words serve as the text of the first recitative; the 
grand chorus which follows is on the words of I. John iii., 8: 

B.-G..VII., No. 40. 


"The Son of God was manifested that He might destroy the 
works of the devil." Bach has concentrated the feeling of 
the work in this one chorus, more than he has done in the 
case of any of his other cantatas, for chorales are used much 
more freely than usual, no less than three, each in four 
parts, being introduced in it; but, with one exception, they 
are new melodies not in general congregational use. 881 For 
novelty, boldness, and breadth of structure this is far superior 
to all the choruses of the Magnificat or of the first Christmas 
cantata. The instrumental introduction is not a proper 
ritornel, but has something of a concerto character, like the 
first chorus in the Magnificat, in which Bach seems to have 
tried his wings before a wider flight. Then the chorus 
works out the motive which the instruments have given 
in a compressed form. At a first glance it appears as 
though the instrumental prelude were wrought out of inde- 
pendent materials, but on closer examination we may 
convince ourselves that the subject of the choruses is in 
fact contained in it, as a kernel in its shell. The first 
phrase of the chorus is almost exclusively homophonous 
in character, then it occurs alternately with the orchestra 
in an interchange of the very shortest phrases; but on the 
words "destroy the works of the devil," uttered in defiant 
declamation, the answering bodies unite and combine in 
unison which in Bach is a very rarely used device 
radiating from thence like a sheaf of rays from the focus 
of a lens, chasing the shades of night and pouring a flood 
of brightness on all around. From this latter portion a 
double fugue is worked out, as the first portion of the chorus 
is from the Prelude. The first theme is constructed by 
augmentation, while the second preserves the original time. 
It sets out with wonderful boldness on the unprepared 

181 Erk has proved that the melody "Schwing dich auf zu deinem Gott" 
" Lift thy spirit up to God" was not, as Winterfeld says, composed by Bach ; 
see his admirable essay on Bach's Chorales, Part I., p. 121, under No. 114. 
The final hymn, the fourth verse of "Freuet euch ihr Christen alle," by 
Keimann and Hammerschmidt, has become popular less as a congregational 
hymn than as a sacred chorus tune. The first chorale is the third verse of the 
sixteenth century Christmas hymn "Wir Christenleut." 


seventh, and, as if this were not enough, the first horn 
follows it in sixths, and a wild triumphant battle turmoil is 
worked out. Then, exactly as in the Magnificat, it passes 
from the subdominant back to the first part. When it 
is said that this chorus gives us the true heart and root 
of the whole composition, this is so far true that its 
musical elements continue to leaven the cantata through- 
out. After a haughty and scornful air for the bass 
" Hollische Schlange wird dir nicht bange " " Serpents of 
hell will not affright thee" we have a recitative with an 
accompaniment, of which the rhythm is derived from some 
of the instrumental figures in the chorus, and the motive of 
the last aria is also traceable to certain elements of that 
grand composition. 882 

For the third day of Christmas we have another cantata, 
which was probably composed in this year, or, at any rate, 
during the earlier part of Bach's residence in Leipzig, and 
performed there and then. 883 This again offers a strong 
contrast to the Christmas music previously described. It 
has little to do with the incidents of the festival itself; 
the previous compositions had sufficed in this particular. 
It alludes in an encouraging manner to the love of God, 
who is fain to be the Father of His human creatures, and 
the imperishable grace which Jesus wrought for them by His 
incarnation. This gives rise to a tone of grave collectedness 
and devoted faith which prevades the whole work. As in 
the cantata " Dazu ist erschienen," a more extensive use 
of the simple church hymn is made here than in Bach's 
other works, and this, in itself, points to its having been 
composed at the same time and to words by the same 
author. Three different chorales are introduced in the 
course of the work : the first, which is the last verse of 
" Gelobet seist du Jesu Christ," immediately follows the 
introductory chorus, a fine and solemn fugue on the words 
" Sehet, welch eine Liebe hat uns der Vater erzeiget, dass 
wir seine Kinder heissen " " Behold what manner of love 

882 See Appendix A., No. 25. 
* B.-G., XVI , No. 64. 


the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called 
the sons of God " in which the voices are reinforced by the 
strings and the trumpets with the cornet. The effect of 
this chorale depended in great measure on the circumstance 
that it was sung by the congregation before the intoning 
of the Gospel, and consequently the sentiment of the Gospel 
was brought vividly before them in a glorified foreshadowing. 
The second chorale consists of the first verse of the hymn 
" Was frag ich nach der Welt " " What care I for the 
world " ; it follows closely on an alto-recitative, in which 
rapid rising and falling passages in the bass figure forth the 
transitoriness of all earthly things that pass away " like 
smoke." It was in the same spirit as that in which Bach 
had on a former occasion given a contrapuntal setting to the 
organ chorale " Ach wie fliichtig, ach wie nichtig," 884 and 
subsequently composed the introductory chorus to a cantata 
on this same chorale, 885 that he now worked out the soprano 
aria which here follows. The last chorale, which forms the 
last number, is the fifth verse of " Jesu meine Freude," a 
favourite chorale with the master. 886 

As in this year Christmas Day fell on Saturday, there was 
only one Sunday after Christmas ; the next music had to be 
composed for the New Year's festival of 1724. Among 
Bach's New Year's cantatas there is but one of which we 
can assert with any certainty that it must have been written 
between 1724 and 1727, this is " Singet dem Herrn ein 
neues Lied " " Sing to the Lord a new song." 887 It may, 
therefore, be mentioned in this place. The first chorus in 
D major, 3-4 time is founded on words taken from Psalms 
cxlix. and cl. At first the voices are used in a rather homo- 
phonous and massive way, but on the words " Alles was 
Odem hat lobe den Herrn " " All that have voice and 
breath, praise ye the Lord " a fugue begins. In two places the 
grand composition is interrupted by all the voices declaiming 

w* See Vol. I., p. 602. 

886 B.-G., V., 1 No. 26. 
* See App. A., No. 26. 

887 A fragment of the original score and some of the original parts exist in 
the Royal Library at Berlin. 


in mighty unison the first two lines of the chorale 
" Herr Gott, dich loben wir " " Lord God, we sing Thy 
praise." In the second number these lines are used for 
a four-part chorus interwoven with recitatives. The third 
movement is an alto aria, of a gay and almost dance-like 
character, and compact in form (A major, 3-4) ; it is accom- 
panied only by a quartet of strings. A bass recitative then 
leads into a duet of a deeply emotional character (D major, 
6-8) for the tenor and bass, with violin concertante, " Jesus 
soil mir alles sein " ; and after another recitative for the 
tenor the piece concludes with a second verse of the New 
Year's hymn " Jesu nun sei gepreiset." This work is in no 
respect inferior in importance to the Christmas compositions 
just discussed, and Bach himself thought it worthy to serve, 
after some revision, for the first day of the Jubilee in memory of 
the Augsburg confession, on June 25, 1730. Picander under- 
tookthe necessary alterations in the text. It is not improbable, 
indeed, that he had also written the text for the New Year's 
cantata, for it is included in his works ; 388 indeed, the last 
recitative of the older form of it follows out much the same 
train of thought as we find at the end of a piece in 
Picander's " Erbaulichen Gedanken," 889 written for the New 
Year of 1725. This last recitative also forcibly reminds 
us of the first recitative in the Rathswahl cantata " Preise 
Jerusalem den Herrn," and it would seem from this that 
the same poet wrote this also. 890 

Bach came forward with another grand new composition 
for the Feast of Epiphany, on January 6. It refers to the 
Epistle for the day, and not to the interesting Gospel 
narrative, and so is better adapted for Vespers than for 
the first service. The eye of the Prophet sees the crowd 
of nations over whom the light of the new doctrines dawns 
and spreads, the thousands across the seas that are converted 
to Christ, and the might of the heathen that are gathered 
in to Him ; unfortunately the poet has not sufficiently 

318 Vol. I., p. 207, of the collected edition of his poems. 

189 Leipzig, 1725, p. 78. 

880 See p. 363 of this Vol., and Appendix A., No. 27. 

2 C 2 


concentrated these grandiose images, and has availed him- 
self of the greater portion of the space afforded to him for 
a moralising homily, to the great detriment of the work as 
a whole, though it was perhaps suggested by the doctrinal 
purpose of the Epistle in the service. From the very first 
recitative this cantata " Sie werden aus Saba alle kommen " 
"They shall all come from Sheba" 391 has a grave and 
deliberate character, but no remarkable originality ; and 
even the closing chorale does not lead us up to a coherent 
and definite festal feeling, but carries on the general 
sentiment which is suggested by the last aria. It is difficult 
to understand why, in this place, Bach did not introduce 
some change. It would almost seem as though he on his 
part had wished to insist on the feeling of the Epistle in 
the cantata, though it had to be performed at morning 
service. But the beginning a chorus on the last verse 
of the Epistle with a chorale immediately following is 
of lofty and peculiar beauty. Dense masses seem to 
come crowding on to do homage to the Saviour, " Bringing 
gold and frankincense, and to declare the praise of God." 
First on the key-note and then on the dominant, with close 
imitations in canon, the pilgrims seem to come pouring in, 
almost treading on each other's heels; a few small gaps 
occur in the tumult of the fugue which follows, and then in 
the last bars they sing, as with one voice, the Glory of the 
Lord. A solemn and mystical brilliancy is given to the 
whole picture by the use of the horns, flutes, and Oboe da 
caccia. The introduction, immediately after, of the short 
chorale "Die Kb'nige aus Saba kamen dar" "Kings from afar 
have come to Thee " sounds strange. Though in poetic 
purpose it follows what has gone before as the fulfilment 
of a prophecy, in musical effect the small and simple form 
is swamped by the broader and richer one. Here, again, it 
is the connection it bears to the service which explains and 
justifies it. The hymn appointed for use at the Epiphany 
was Puer natus in Bethlehem, and this chorale is the fourth 
verse of that- hymn (Reges de Saba veniunt). The hymn 

B.-G., XVI., No. 6 5 . p. 1280. 



was sung at the beginning of the service by a chorus a 
capella, and the return to it here has a symbolical signi- 
ficance which would suffice to counterbalance the great 
chorus; but it is indeed more than justifiable, it is indis- 
pensable in this place to give the work a thoroughly sacred 
and festal character. The recitatives and aria bear, it is 
true, the stamp of church use, but they are but slightly 
connected with this particular festival. The first chorus 
gives a wonderfully artistic form to the leading idea of the 
Epiphany; but the mode in which an incident has been 
musically embodied in it approaches very remarkably the 
oratorio style, of which the distinguishing mark is the way 
in which it directly depicts the emotion an event gives rise 
to, without the modifying stamp of church use. This chorale 
is treated on a method which, lying between the two, defines 
them both; it strictly confines the human emotion within 
the limits of church use, while it concentrates the devotional 
feeling on the festival of the day. Its oratorio style gives 
this first chorus an affinity with the Christmas cantata 
"Christen atzet diesen Tag" "Christians, mark this happy 
day." They have other resemblances in detail. When the 
first chorus in the Christmas cantata runs thus: 


and the theme of the fugue in the Epiphany cantata thus: 


the same principal idea can be traced in both, though dressed 
in a different garb; indeed, here the same idea is used again, 
treated in canon (from bar 27) . 892 

The next festival of the church year was the Purification 
of the Virgin. This was held on February 2, which, in 
1724, fell upon the Tuesday after the fourth Sunday after 

892 See Appendix A., No. 28. 


the Epiphany. The music which Bach seems to have 
composed for this day, "Erfreute Zeit im neuen Bunde," 893 
is an off-shoot from the first chorus of the Magnificat and 
the cantata for the second day of Christmas, and a pendant 
to the cantata for dedicating the organ, of November 2 of 
the previous year. There we had a cantata in the form of 
an orchestral suite; in the first chorus of the Magnificat 
and in the Christmas cantata we had an imitation of the 
first movement of a concerto. The music for the festival 
of the Purification has assumed the form of a complete 
Italian concerto; and, as if Bach was resolved to force 
this on the hearer's consciousness, he adds a violin part 
concertante to both the first and third movements, one being 
an aria for the alto and the other for the tenor. The 
resemblance to an instrumental concerto is indeed so con- 
spicuous that we might almost be tempted to think it had 
been founded on one, and remodelled from its first form for 
church purposes. This, however, is not the case. The use 
of the aria form, it is true, would not suffice to disprove it, 
since it occurs in real concertos by Bach, as, for instance, 
the violin concerto in E major. But the regular and normal 
ritornels, though worked out on the same method as those 
in the Magnificat and Christmas cantata, prove that it is an 
original composition. 

The modification and application of the form must be 
regarded as most masterly and admirably suited to the text. 
The words of the venerable Simeon are a suggestive theme 
for verses intended to express the belief in a blessed death 
as secured to us by Christ; and both poet and composer 
have treated the motive grandly and broadly. It is con- 
spicuous in the text, but is not the predominant idea; at 
least, as much importance is given to the feeling that faith 
is effectual in bestowing strength and happiness in this life; 
but Bach has worked exclusively on the former ground, and 
to embody it musically the powerful and, at the same time, 
plastic style of an opening concerto movement offered a form 
as admirable as it was novel. This was not quite the case 

93 B.-G., xx., 1 NO. 8 3 . 


with the third or giga movement, here represented by the 
tenor aria " Eile Herz voll Freudigkeit" " Haste my heart 
with eager joy" for in the first place the common factor 
in the conception of the text and of the music is, in this 
case, the rather superficial one representing the idea of 
" haste " ; however, even in this, an irrepressible and elastic 
nature asserts its power. The piece which divides the two 
arias, in the same way takes the place of the concerto adagio; 
more, however, by the contrast it offers to its surroundings 
than by its inherent nature. The song of Simeon was sung 
in the Leipzig liturgy as preliminary to the Collect. 894 In 
the second section of the cantata Bach takes up the first 
three verses of it, gives them to the bass, and has them 
accompanied by an independent instrumental subject in two 
parts, worked out now in strict canon and now in free 
imitation. This is interrupted by recitatives. The severely 
sacred character of the elaborate counterpoint to the old 
melody puts the listener into the fitting vein of feeling for 
the first and third movements. A fine effect is produced by 
the melody of the three verses being repeated, not in the 
same position, but each time in a lower one, each time more 
calmly and dimly, as it were, like the dying thoughts of one 
who " departs in peace." 

Another short recitative follows the tenor aria, and then 
comes the fourth verse, in four parts, of the chorale " Mit 
Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin," which was the appointed 
congregational hymn for this festival, for Vespers only. It 
is not without interest to note the arrangement of the keys 
in the different movements of this cantata. The first move- 
ment, the alto aria, is in F major ; the second, the chorale 
arrangement, in B flat major ; the third, the tenor aria, is 
in F major again, and the final four-part chorale is in D 
in the Doric mode. When a cantata included only two 
arias, and the second was not the final movement of the 
whole composition, Bach usually avoided composing them 
both in the same key, and its occurrence here is further proof 
that the type of the Italian concerto was floating in his 

IM According to Vopelius, p. 112. 


mind. The first three numbers form of themselves a musical 
entity, and what follows is an external addition. 895 

It is not known what Bach composed this year for the 
festival of the Annunciation ; for the present we will pass 
over the Passion music which he had performed on Good 
Friday and go on to the first day of Easter. Here a truly 
grandiose work meets our view, the cantata " Christ lag in 
Todesbanden " 896 " Christ lay in bonds of darkness." It 
is certain that Bach composed this in the early years of his 
life in Leipzig, and we discern, moreover, that his ideas 
reverted to Kuhnau in this work in the same way as in the 
Magnificat at Christmas. It is, therefore, highly probable 
that it was composed for April 9, I724- 897 A MS. of the 
year 1693 has been preserved containing a sacred com- 
position by Bach's predecessor, in which the same chorale 
constitutes the central idea. 898 The first and last stanzas 
of the hymn form the beginning and the close, and between 
them there are independent lines in verse-form, themselves 
a paraphrase of the ideas of the older hymn. It begins with 
an instrumental sonata in the old form ; the first verse is 
sung by the soprano alone with an accompaniment of two 
cornets and continue in this rhythm 

and this is immediately followed by a vivace Allelujah in four 
parts. In comparing this first section of Bach's cantata 
the short introductory symphony, the composition of the 
second verse, and the Allelujah at the close of the first 
we at once detect that he has allowed himself to be inspired 
by Kuhnau's work, which he must have found among the 
music in the St. Thomas' Library. However, this special 
musical impulse has not carried him beyond the first 
movement, though the whole cantata betrays a constant 
endeavour to recover the earlier forms of expression which 

896 See App. A., No. 29. 

a B.-G., I., No. 4. P. 1196. 

' See Appendix A., No. 30. 

606 In the Royal Library at Berlin. 


he had in fact long since left behind him ; and in this 
respect it evades comparison with any other of his works. 
We may be very sure, from the profound nature of the artist, 
that in doing this, what he aimed at was something more 
than a mere rivalry with his esteemed predecessor. The 
melody of the chorale is one of the most ancient in existence; 
it is easy to recognise it as a modification of a hymn already 
well known in the twelfth century, " Christ ist erstanden" 
" Christ is risen." If the high antiquity of this tune was 
known to the composer as is certainly very probable he 
would no doubt feel the fitness of stamping on the whole 
composition he developed from it a correspondingly antique 
character, and this he thought could best be done by the 
adaptation and revival of forms which were not yet wholly 
cast off by the modern time, but which yet had some flavour 
of antiquity. Since, too, in the morning service, both these 
old hymns were sung, and at Vespers "Christ lag in Todes- 
banden" was again used by the congregation in the churches 
both of St. Nicholas and St. Thomas, the melody gave 
utterance to the festal feeling of this special day above all 
other festivals, and guided the emotional side of the whole 
service into the right path. 

An antique character is impressed on it merely by the 
constitution of the orchestra. It is well known that in the 
seventeenth century harmony in five parts was almost 
invariably preferred to four, and for this reason two violas 
were frequently added to the two violins. Bach himself had 
followed this custom in some of his earlier cantatas, as in 
the Advent music " Nun komm der Heiden Heiland " 
" Come, O Saviour of the nations " written in 1714, and 
the Easter cantata " Der Himmel lacht " " The Heavens 
laugh " in 1715. The cantata for Sexagesima, which was 
written still earlier, " Gleichwie der Regen und Schnee vom 
Himmel fallt " " Like as the rain watereth " has four 
violas, the violins being altogether absent. In the Leipzig 
cantatas it is an exception when the two violas are em- 
ployed, and this is one of the exceptions. None but 
stringed instruments are introduced ; the trumpets and 
cornet belonging to them are only used in a few passages 


to support the voices. The composer has carefully avoided 
all the " madrigal " types of music, as likewise the arioso 
and all solo singing strictly speaking. The seven verses of 
Luther's hymn serve exclusively for the text, and he works 
out the melody in seven numbers, each different from the 
other, so that this is the only work by Bach which is literally 
and thoroughly a church cantata in the sense in which 
Buxtehude, Pachelbel, and Kuhnau used the word. 899 

The introductory Sinfonia is quite in the style of Buxte- 
hude's sacred music, and it must remain doubtful whether 
Bach purposely returned to the forms of expression of an 
earlier period, or used a work of his youth as the foundation 
of it. This melody, played by the first violin : 

jf* u * \ -_[_ r r _ i _ _ 1 1 1 1. ^- a ! i >. j -ii-i ^ 



the feeling of the first two bars ; the repetition of the same 
phrase ; the interrupted progressions ; the episodical dis- 
memberment of the first line of the chorale, which is, as it 
were, only caught in passing ; and, finally, the brevity of the 
piece, which altogether contains but fourteen bars all this 
is so foreign to Bach's later style of writing, that the second 
hypothesis seems the more probable of the two. 

Each of the seven verses undergoes a special treatment. 
The first and fourth are in the style of Pachelbel ; the full 
choir is employed in them, and in both without any indepen- 
dent instrumental accompaniment. In the first the cantus 
firmus is given to the soprano ; in the fourth to the alto. In 
the second verse, for the soprano, alto, and continue, the lines 
are dissected and worked out in Bohm's manner. The third 
is constructed on the principles of an organ trio, and the 
only voice employed is a tenor, which has the cantus firmus; 
the fifth verse, on the contrary, is sung by the bass alone, 
the melody lying in the first violin of the accompanying 
strings ; but the lines of the air do not follow each other 

w See Vol. I., p. 305. 


immediately, but are separated by interludes, in which the 
first violin has an independent part. These interludes, as 
well as the opportunity afforded by the prelude, are taken 
advantage of by the bass voice, which sings each line in 
anticipation, whereas in the passages where the melody is 
given to the instruments, a counterpoint is allotted to it; 
thus each line is repeated twice, and both times on notes of 
the same value, and the fact that the instruments are the 
true exponents of the chorale, and not the voice, is only 
recognisable from the place in the scale in which it appears 
on the instruments. In this number also we find in certain 
pregnant passages an extension of the melody in Bohm's 
manner. The sixth strophe is given to the soprano and 
tenor; the delivery of the chorale is distributed between 
them, the tenor taking the first two lines and the soprano 
the third and fourth ; the fifth again is for the soprano, the 
sixth for the tenor, and they both sing the last two. This 
alteration, however, only applies to the lines of the chorale 
itself; the two voices are for the most part employed together 
throughout; the voice which is not singing the melody sings 
in counterpoint, and also leads the two first couplets with 
the melody sung in the manner of a prelude, but on the 
fourth above or the fifth below the chief part. In the 
seventh verse, the whole chorus sing the simple finale. 

These treatments of the chorale bear abundant traces of 
the earlier style. They lie partly in the numerous imitations 
of Bohm's effects and partly in certain combinations of the 
instruments in the first chorus. While the second violin and 
the viola for the most part support the voices, the first violin 
goes on its own way high above the general body of sound ; at 
the same time it drags the second violin into its own rhythm, 
and so develops a movement such as we have often met with 
in Bach's earliest cantatas. 400 The entrance of the strings, 
too, in the second bar, reminds us of Buxtehude's tendencies 
towards mere fulness of tone, irrespective of the thematic 
value of melodic phrases. On the other hand, again, the 
cantata displays a wealth of chorale forms which the old 

See Vol I., pp. 444 and 453. B.-G., XXIII., p. 169. 


masters were far from having at their command ; nor had 
they any intuition of the dramatically sacred sentiment 
which we here meet with at every line. The type of the 
first chorus is, it is true, that of Pachelbel; still, this is not 
perceptible in the first two lines, since the cantus firmus 
starts on the very first note, and scarcely any dependence 
on the theme is perceptible in the parts which have the 
counterpoint. But when, as an introduction to the following 
lines ("der ist wieder erstanden und hat uns bracht das 
Leben" "Who hath risen again and brought us life" ), 
they strike in with a broad fugal subject which is at last 
crowned by the soprano with the expected melody when 
all the parts begin to extend, and spread, and overflow with 
independent vitality then we discover what a deep poetical 
intelligence has here pervaded and animated the whole. The 
extension of the lines in the second stanza is, in the first 
instance, a recurrence to the standard of the old type of 
chorale, but it is also subservient to the poetical idea. On 
examination of the separate phrases, it is easy to perceive 
that they consist for the most part of five bars or of five 
half-bars. The text speaks of the impotency of men against 
spiritual death, which has overcome them and holds them 
captive; hence this broken and abrupt rhythm, which seems 
to hold the music spellbound. In the sixth verse we find 
the same artifice, but with what a different aim ! 

So feiern wir das hohe Fest Come let us keep the holy feast 

Mit Herzensfreud und Wonne, With joy and exultation, 

Das uns der Herre scheinen lasst, Our Sun is risen in the east, 

Er ist selber die Sonne, He is our soul's salvation, 

says the poet, and after each section of the melody a long 
train of light seems to fall across the path. I have spoken 
of the treatment of the fifth strophe as the expression of 
a mystical emotion. It is so here; a mysterious parallel 
is drawn between the Paschal Lamb of the Passion and 
its saving power, and the sacrificial death of Christ. The 
instruments, like an invisible choir, glorify the mystery 
which is proclaimed by the bass; but he does not speak 
of it as a Catholic priest would, but with a personal 
and Protestant participation in it; this arises from the 


fervency with which Bach throws himself at once into the 
purport of the text. The image of the Cross is vividly given 
by a dislocated melisma, full of anguish ; that of Death by a 
leap of a diminished twelfth down to the darkest depth ; 
that of Death overcome by a d f , held through several bars, 
and almost boastful in its effect. In bars 43 and 52, the 
voice imitates, as it were, the movement of the mystic type. 

Indeed, the cantata is full of picturesque details throughout. 
In the third verse, the " Form of Death," which alone 
remains when all living powers have been overcome by death, 
is represented by a peculiar counterpoint, which seems to 
shrink away humbled and confounded. " Die Schrift hat 
verkiindigt das Wie ein Tod den andern frass, Ein Spott aus 
dem Tod ist worden " " The Scripture hath declared to us 
that as One Death hath swallowed all, death is now mocked 
at." Thus begins the fourth verse ; the parts enter in 
counterpoint on the first line, impressively and powerfully, 
like the shout of a herald ; on the second they entwine in a 
close maze in canon, in which the parts seem to swallow each 
other in turn ; in the third they dance gaily and victoriously, 
disdaining the cantus firmus ; in the fourth stanza, the cantus 
firmus derives a peculiar effect from the circumstance that it 
is carried on, not in the fundamental key, but in that of the 
fifth above. This bold and striking combination obviously 
serves a poetic purpose, for " it was a great and fearful fight 
that death and life were waging." If we listen to the 
cantata all through, as a whole, the effect is at first somewhat 
monotonous, in consequence of the persistency of the chorale 
melody and of the key of E minor, and from the uniformly 
low and gloomy pitch of feeling throughout. A dim and 
mournful light, as of the regions of the north, seems to 
shine upon it ; it is gnarled and yet majestic, like the 
primeval oak of the forest. From the total absence of all 
Italian forms, it bears a German and exclusively national 
stamp. Such a product of art could never have matured 
under a southern sun a work in which the Spring festival 
of the church, the joyful and hopeful Easter-tide, is celebrated 
in tones at once so grandiose and so gloomy. 

The cantatas written by Bach for the second and third 


days of Easter, 1724, are lost, as well as that composed for 
Ascension Day ; those for the first and third days of Whit- 
suntide we have, on the contrary, and also one for Trinity 
Sunday, all of which seem to have been written in this year, 
or, at any rate, early during his residence in Leipzig. 

The composition for " Erschallet ihr Lieder, erklinget ihr 
Saiten " " Sing out, all ye minstrels, your lutes now be 
sounding " belongs to the first day of Whitsuntide. 401 The 
verses are probably by Franck ; they are not, to be sure, 
included in any of the printed collections of his poems, still, 
we are not forced to conclude that Franck published all 
his cantata texts. A glance at the " Geist- und weltlichen 
Poesien " shows us that he was fond of setting Bible verses, 
not merely at the beginning and end of a text, but of intro- 
ducing them here and there, and enlarging upon them 
in words of his own. A uniform musical composition 
was hardly to be expected from this process, but Franck 
never very well understood how to work hand in hand with 
the musician. In the cantata, " Erschallet ihr Lieder," the 
Bible text, " He that loveth Me, keepeth My word," which 
ought properly to have crowned the whole, takes quite a 
subordinate place. As is very frequent with Franck, the 
words for the arias are not in the da capo form, but like the 
verses of a hymn ; there are no recitative passages at all. 
Franck's peculiar manner is most conspicuous in the duet, 
and if we compare the dialogue it contains with some of the 
verses of a Whitsuntide cantata in his " Geist- und weltlichen 
Poesien " we cannot but recognise the same hand in both. 
As we shall presently see, again, this is not the only 
unpublished text by Franck which Bach made use of in 

The duet, which reminds us of the music of the chorus, 
" Himmelskonig," is the most important movement of the 
cantata. The soprano and alto sing together above a basso 
quasi ostinato, while an independent instrumental part works 
out the Whitsuntide chorale " Komm heiliger Geist, Herre 
Gott " ; in a subsequent re-arrangement he gave the bass 

401 The original parts are in the Royal Library at Berlin. 


and chorale to an obbligato organ. The artistic elaboration 
of this complicated movement is enhanced by Bach having 
introduced a variety of highly-coloured detail into the chorale 
in Buxtehude's manner ; at the same time, he has not used 
the whole long tune, but only the first three lines and the 
last two, treating the repeated " Hallelujah " at the end as 
a single line. It is worthy of remark that he used the same 
abridged form in the original arrangement of his chorale 
fantasia for the organ on the same melody, but there the 
*' Hallelujah " also is omitted. 402 The whole movement is 
instinct with a fervency and ecstasy which astonish us even 
in Bach. Buxtehude's mode of treatment was peculiarly 
suited to express such emotions ; the liberty it gave the 
imagination facilitated the carrying out of such intricate 
combinations, by allowing small deviations from the strict 
order of the time, as in the " Hallelujah," or even a break 
in the melody, as in bar 9. The solo songs are equally 
full of characteristic beauty, as the tenor aria, where the 
passages for the united violins float by like airs of spring, 
and the magnificent bass aria, accompanied only by trumpets, 
drums, and bassoons. The chorus, which is repeated at the 
close, recalls that in the Christmas cantata " Christians, 
mark this happy day " ; it is, however, less important in 
character. It must be observed, as reminding us of the 
Easter-day music "Christ lay in bonds of darkness" that 
we here again have two viola parts. 403 

The music for the second day of Whitsuntide, 1724, again 
is wanting, while that for the third may have been preserved 
in the cantata "Erwunschtes Freudenlicht," 404 which at any 
rate was written at about this period. At the same time 
there can be no doubt of the fact that it is a remodelling 
of a secular cantata. For what occasion the original was 
composed is not known ; not a trace of it survives. But 

4M The omission of the " Hallelujah " justifies us in assuming that Bach had 
arranged the first four lines, and wished to give the last of them a closing tune 
which should lead back into the original key, for the fourth line is almost 
exactly the same as the one before it. 

See App. A., No. 31. 

404 The original score and parts are in the Royal Library at Berlin. 


that it was actually founded on a secular cantata is evident 
from the popular dance-like character of the duet, and still 
more from the gavotte measure of the final chorus. Another 
particularly strong evidence is that it recurs with a different 
text as the closing chorus of a secular composition written 
in 1733 that is to say, the first twenty-four bars of it do. 405 

This proves that it was originally written for a secular 
purpose. Bach himself must have had a particular liking 
for the subject, for often as it occurs with him to transform 
a secular into a sacred piece, it is equally rarely that he 
transfers a number from one secular cantata to another. 
The chorale which precedes the gavotte was not inserted 
till later, when the work was adapted to church purposes, 
but it was insufficient to alter essentially the tone of perfectly 
worldly cheerfulness of the whole piece. 

To the same period, and probably the same year, belongs 
the Trinity cantata " O heilges Geist- und Wasserbad " 
" O fountain of the Spirit's grace " of which the text 
is again taken from Franck's " Evangelische Andachts- 
Opfer" 406 a flat and empty poem to which Bach has 
written a pleasing and graceful though not very important 
composition. The opening subject, an aria for the soprano, 
is a remarkable piece, an extremely artistically wrought 
fugue with strettos, inversions, and countersubjects. The 
two other airs proceed more simply, but exhibit throughout 
the same finish of detail. The chorus only comes in in the 
simple final chorale, and the feeling of the whole is mild 
and temperate. 

This closes the series of the festival cantatas which can 
be assigned with more or less certainty to the first complete 
ecclesiastical year in Leipzig. We may now consider the 
works composed for ordinary Sunday use, belonging or 
appearing to belong to this year. 

406 < Lasst uns sorgen, lasst uns wachen," written for the birthday of the 
Elector of Saxony, September 5, 1733. The text is in Picander, Part 4, 1737; 
the autograph score and parts are in the Royal Library at Berlin. The 
circumstance that the beginning of the final chorus is a clean copy, proves 
that it was not first written for this cantata. 

* See App. A., No. 32. 


I. The Sunday after New Year's Day, January 2, 1724, 
I should place here the cantata " Schau lieber Gott, wie 
meine Feind " ; a grand and boldly planned tenor aria, 
" Stiirmt nur, stiirmt ihr Trubsals- Wetter," and an alto 
air of wonderful melodious charm, are associated with three 
simply set chorales, one of which is placed at the beginning, 
the second after a bass arioso included in a recitative, and 
the third at the end. There is no chorus on the chorale 
nor on any independent subject, and the arrangement of the 
movement is different from what is usual with Bach. 407 

II. First Sunday after Epiphany, January 9, 1724, 
" Mein liebster Jesus ist verloren." As in the former 
cantata, the chorus has only two simple chorales, one of 
which forms the close and the other is the third number. 
The arias are of great beauty ; the tenor begins in a 
mournful and genuinely Bach-like longing strain : 


^ - 



TTflr ^- g-i 


Mein lieb - 



sus ist 

^ 1 1 ^ - t 1- 

ver - lo - ren, o Wort, daa 

mir . . Ver-zwei-flung bringt. 

The following lines : " O Schwert, das durch die Seele 
dringt " " O sword, that piercest through the soul," &c. 
are evidently suggested by Job. Rist's hymn, " O Ewigkeit, 
du Donnerwort, O Schwert, das durch die Seele bohrt." 
Bach composed two cantatas beginning with this chorale. 
In one of these, that for the twenty-fourth Sunday after 
Trinity, 408 the anxious expectancy with which man watches 
for the coming of the Judge is expressed by a light quivering 
motion of semiquavers on the strings. Bach here employs 
precisely the same image to the analogous words, and in 
composing the cantata for Trinity Sunday, 1732, this 
earlier work may have recurred to his mind. Another 

407 The original parts are in the Royal Library at Berlin. See App. A., 
No. 33- 
B.-G.,XII.,p. 171. 

II. 2 D 


striking resemblance occurs in the tenor aria which precedes 
the last chorale with this passage : 

. ,. tr tr_ 

w ' i m j*] r ^=3= 

In a duet in the cantata " Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen," 
which also belongs to the first Sunday after Epiphany, 409 
the same passage occurs elaborately worked out, and we 
cannot doubt that the repetition was intentional. It may 
also probably be recognised in the fugue in F sharp major 
of the second part of the Wohltemperirte Clavier, where 
the polyphonic progression is interrupted twice by a long 
homophonic section worked out almost without any thematic 
connection with the subject quoted above ; and again this 
cantata reminds us of a third composition : compare the 
following passage : 

with the first subject of the Violin Sonata in A major, par- 
ticularly bar 8. 410 The passage occurs in the alto aria : 
"Jesu, lass dich finden" "Jesu, let me find Thee." A 
tender and feminine grace breathes through this composition. 
It is felt from the first in the principal subject : 

r ^~r g f r r f if J p e r r f f i 

and the piece acquires throughout a soft ethereal brilliancy 
from the accompaniment, consisting only of violins and 
violas with two oboi d'amore, and the rocking movement of 
the principal parts : 

which is carried on by the violas, gives it a peculiar 

The parents of Christ, so runs the Gospel narrative, 
went up with Him to the Passover at Jerusalem. There 

B.-G., VII., No. 32, p. 55. P. 1663. 
410 B.-G., IX., p. 84. See ante, p. 113. 


they lost their Son, and after long seeking "found Him at 
last in the temple sitting in the midst of the doctors both 
hearing them and asking them questions." With gentle 
reproach Mary says to Him, "Son, why hast Thou dealt 
thus with us ? Behold Thy father and I have sought Thee 
sorrowing." And the Child justifies Himself in words 
almost of reproof. "And His mother," we are told, 
"pondered these words in her heart." The writer of the 
text has treated the incident symbolically as representing 
the longing of the soul for Christ, and Bach has adopted 
this as the fundamental feeling of his composition. Indeed, 
we know how ready he always was to find some special 
purport in the Bible text itself, or in the ecclesiastical 
significance of the Sunday, and here, when we see moreover 
that the above quoted aria is immediately followed by the 
words from the Bible in which Jesus reproaches His mother, 
"Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business," 
we cannot for a moment doubt that it was the image of 
the blessed Mother so vividly set before us in the Gospel 
narrative which floated before the fancy of the deep-souled 
composer. It is an instance similar to that of the B minor 
aria in the Magnificat (see ante, p. 377) . m 

III. Fourth Sunday after Epiphany, January 30, 1724, 
"Jesus schlaft, was soil ich hoffen" "Jesus sleeps, what 
can I hope for?" Jesus is sailing across the sea with His 
disciples a storm rises, but He is asleep. They wake Him 
in their terror, He reproves them for their little faith, speaks 
to the sea and it is still. The hearer, whose mind is full of 
this picture, when he listens to this cantata will be startled 
by the first aria, for it is quite beside the situation as thus 
depicted. It is a dusky night piece, the Saviour sleeps and 
some weird apparition wrings cries of terror from the 
lonely watchers. It is not till the second aria that the 
musical work corresponds somewhat more closely to the 
Gospel narrative, and here all the means at command, even 
the voice part, are engaged in representing the sea surging 
in a storm. In the following movement the connection 

" See App. A., No. 34. 

2 D 2 


is even closer ; we hear Christ speak, " O ye of little faith 
wherefore are ye so fearful ? " and in the magnificent E 
minor aria we see Him rise majestically to rule the winds 
and waves with words of might. It is vain to seek here 
any thread of dramatic purpose which might give unity to 
the whole. It is indeed the very privilege of the composer 
that he may treat the Gospel narrative itself, in its simple 
or its symbolical meaning, as the amalgamating factor ; he 
may view his subject from different sides, and need regard 
none but musical requirements in arraying and ordering 
the pictures he sets before the hearer. In this cantata 
Bach has shown how with the smallest means he could 
produce the grandest results. It is beyond question one 
of the most stupendous productions, not only of his art, 
but of German music at any time. In every bar it may 
be said that his genius reveals its full power. No one can 
listen without deep emotion to the chorale " Jesu meine 
Freude " which comes in with consolatory effect.* 

IV. Quinquagesima Sunday, February 20, 1724, " Du 
wahrer Gott und Davids Sohn." This cantata, composed a 
year before, has already been discussed (see p. 350). 

V. Jubilate Sunday (third after Easter), April 30, 1724, 
" Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen " " Sorrow, weeping, 
anguish, terror." 412 There are clear proofs indicating that 
this cantata was composed at the same time as that for 
Whitsunday, " Erschallet ihr Lieder" "Sing out, all ye 
minstrels" though at the same time we are tempted to 
trace in it, as in " Christ laginTodesbanden," a remodelling 
of an earlier work. The autograph score, which is preserved, 
is a beautifully executed, fair copy. If it is founded on an 
older composition, this must have been written during the 
Weimar period, perhaps about 1714 ; the spirit and style 
of the words betray the hand of Salomo Franck. The 
symphony is one of those broad and richly harmonised 

* See App. A., No. 35. 

412 B.-G., II., No. 12. The statement in the preface that in the autograph 
score only the symphony has a figured bass is not wholly correct. The 
figuring, though it is imperfect, extends throughout the first recitative and first 
aria. As to the chronology, see App. A., No. 31. 


adagios in which Bach rose superior to Gabrieli's church 
sonatas in one movement* not without assimilating in 
some degree the purport and feeling of the introductory 
adagio of the Italian chamber sonatas. Now this form 
occurs most frequently in his earlier sacred works. 413 The 
first chorus is in three divisions in aria-form, and the first 
and third sections are a passacaglio adapted to the chorus 
and orchestra. A parallel to this also exists among Bach's 
earlier works : the chaconne at the end of the cantata 
" Nach dir Herr verlanget mich." 414 In both, difficulties 
of form are got over in a masterly manner ; still this 
passacaglio is the more interesting from a musical point of 
view, and more thoughtfully harmonised. Its pathetic and 
tearful feeling, revelling in melancholy, is also characteristic 
of that period of Bach's life when he was still engaged on 
church music of the older type, and was developing his 
own line of feeling in the forms it offered. I have spoken 
in another place of the internal connection of this passa- 
caglio with a chorus in the Miihlhausen Raths-wechsel 
cantata, and with an air by Erlebach (Vol. I., p. 351). 
Its bass part is one of Bach's favourite motives ; it occurs 
also in the cantata " Nach dir Herr verlanget mich " ; 
there, however, it is the theme of a fugue for the first chorus ; 
again we find it in the cantata "Jesu, der du meine Seele," 
where other details also remind us of the chorus " Weinen, 
Klagen." 415 The arias follow each other, as was Franck's 
wont, without any recitatives inserted between. The alto 
aria is remarkable because the instrumental ritornel has 
a different idea in it to the voice part, and the same is the 
case in the Weimar Easter cantata " Der Himmel lacht, 
die Erde jubiliret." Finally, this work resembles the cantata 
" Nun komm der Heiden Heiland " in the circumstance that 
it closes in a different key from that it begins in, and falls 

418 For instance, in " Ich hatte viel Bekiimmerniss " (see Vol. I., p. 531), 
" Himmelskonig sei willkommen " (Vol. I., p. 539), and in " Der Herr denket 
an uns '" (Vol. I., p. 371). Compare also Vol. I., p. 124. 

414 See Vol. I., p. 443. 

416 Compare bar 83 of" Weinen, Klagen," with bar 25. &c., and bar 57, &c., 
of " Jesu, der du meine Seele." 


naturally into two divisions of the first four and the last 
three movements (see Vol. I., p. 507). Thus we find 
throughout traces which connect it with an earlier period 
of Bach's writing. It is further noteworthy that in bar 17 
of the alto aria an imitation in canon of the voice part, 
beginning on the fourth quaver, implies the use of an organ 
accompaniment ; this proceeding frequently occurs, not only 
in Bach, but in other music of the time, in closing cadences 
and particularly in recitatives. In evidence we may quote 
the end of the recitative in the cantata " Gott der Hoffnung 
erfulle euch " : tt6 


und druck uns dann zu un - srer Rub die Au - gen se - - 

6 6 6 666 

I- J MJt- 

VI. Second Sunday after Trinity, June 18, 1724, " Siehe 
zu, dass deine Gottesfurcht nicht Heuchelei sei " " Take 
thou heed, that thy fear of God be not hypocrisy." This 
cantata is evidently a companion piece to that for Trinity 
Sunday, " O heilges Geist- und Wasserbad," but it is 
worked out in grander forms, and is more important and 
full of meaning. Still, an extraordinary resemblance is 
perceptible in the structure of the first movements, which 
are quite exceptional and highly complicated. What in the 
Festival cantata is a soprano aria, in this is a four-part 
chorus, with an independent bass in some passages. The 
theme of the fugue is worked out in both pieces in motu redo 
et contrario, and in each a second theme is introduced, 
which afterwards combines with the first to form a double 
fugue. A certain relationship is also traceable in the themes, 

See App. A., No. ai. 


at any rate, in the principal themes. In the Festival cantata 
the theme is as follows : 

in the other : 

But the progression of the parts is in the former more 
intricate and close, almost overwrought indeed ; the fugal 
aria might almost be called a study for the choral fugue 
which is so broad, free, and imposing. But it is not in this 
only, but in the two arias and the closing chorale that Bach 
has fully displayed his unsurpassed powers of combination ; 
particularly in the second aria, in which the soprano and 
bass have a real quartet with two 060* da caccia, which is 
quite admirable in its lavish use of harmonies and modu- 
lations. The cantata resembles the former one in ending 
in a different key from that in which it begins. 417 

VII. Twelfth Sunday after Trinity, August 27, 1724, 
" Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele " " Praise thou the Lord, 
O my soul." This cantata owes its sumptuous and festal 
character less to its appropriateness to this particular 
Sunday than to the circumstance that it is evidently 
intended also for a Rathswahl cantata. The service usual 
on this occasion took place, in 1724, on the 28th of 
August, and the cantata was then performed a second 
time. A third performance took place about 1735 ; it no 
doubt did not serve for Sunday use, but only for the 
Rathswahl service. For in the re-arrangement which it 
underwent for this occasion the reference to the city govern- 
ment was brought out more distinctly in the text, so that its 
application to the twelfth Sunday after Trinity is altogether 
lost. The solo movements of this cantata are of no con- 
spicuous importance. But in the first chorus Bach has 
put forth all his powers : it is a double fugue worked out 

417 The autograph score and some of the original parts are in the Royal 
Library at Berlin. See App. A., No. 36. 


on broad proportions with an aria-like opening, and it is one 
of the most brilliant and powerful pieces of the kind that 
remain of his writing. 418 

Having followed Bach through the first complete church- 
year of his residence in Leipzig, we may henceforth study 
all that he wrote in the way of cantatas in larger groups, 
according to periods. Such a group may be very properly 
limited by the date of the death of the Queen Christiana 
Eberhardine, September 7, 1727, when a public mourning 
of four months began, during which all church and organ 
music was silenced. 419 Of four of the cantatas composed 
until this time, the year and day of their performance can 
be exactly determined, and it can be approximately ascer- 
tained as regards several. As has been said, Picander 
published for the years 1724 1725 a " collection of edifying 
thoughts," which appeared in weekly parts. If we may 
hazard a guess that he had written for Bach so early as for 
the Rathswahl of 1723, and New Year's day, 1724, we can 
point out in this collection the first texts which Picander 
can be proved to have written for Bach at all. The 
" Erbaulichen Gedanken " had no pretensions to be fitted 
for music, excepting in so far as they included hymns in 
stanzas, and the introduction of a hymn in verses into the 
musical setting of a sacred "Madrigal" involved many 
anomalies. For this reason Picander found himself obliged 
to give a " Madrigal " form to the poems in stanzas con- 
tained in the " edifying thoughts " for St. Michael's day, by 
shortening, compressing, and transposing them with certain 
additions to some of the lines. 

On comparing, as I have been able to do, the text of the 
cantata as it stands with that in Picander's collection, we 
find that the first two verses have been re-written to suit the 
ideas suggested by the Epistle appointed for the Festival. 
But the words of the soprano aria correspond exactly with 
the third verse in the " Erbaulichen Gedanken," while the 
tenor recitative is the first verse transformed by a facile 

8 B.-G., XVI., No. 69. P. 1667. See Appendix A., No. 37. 
419 See Appendix A., No. 33. 


hand into the " Madrigal " form ; this is the case, too, with 
the last two strophes, which have been adapted to the 
soprano recitative, while the tenor air is a new and inde- 
pendent verse. The closing chorale consists of the eighth 
verse of the hymn " Freu dich sehr, O meine Seele." There 
is not the smallest doubt in my mind that the cantata text 
and the verses in the collection were alike written for the 
Feast of St. Michael of 1725, and that while the former 
was intended only for Bach to compose to, the latter was 
intended for publication as a separate work. Picander 
wrote too quickly and readily in the Madrigal form for it to 
be possible that he should in later years have worked 
again on a poem which, even in its original form, was, 
on the whole, but meagrely adapted to the requirements 
of a cantata. 

I have already taken occasion to point out that Bach 
derived the impetus to this composition from a work by his 
uncle, Joh. Christoph Bach. 420 We know that he had that 
composition performed in Leipzig, and that it produced 
a great effect. Its influence, in his mind, betrayed itself 
in the first place in the construction of the text, in which 
Picander certainly followed the prompting of Bach ; and 
which, contrary to custom, refers more to the Epistle than 
to the Gospel for the day, so far as it was possible to 
reconcile this with the use of the verses he had at hand. 
Besides this, the effort to produce dramatic and oratorio-like 
tone-pictures is conspicuous throughout the composition. 
Even in the first chorus, where the text offers an idea 
which suggests a figurative movement in the music, it is 
eagerly seized upon. And yet the result is not properly an 
oratorio chorus. It is not the objective or, may we say, 
epic concentration on the matter in hand which is so 
effective, but a torrent of feeling, roused by some stupendous 
event, which roars and rushes by, reflecting the quavering 
picture in vague and broken outlines. On comparison 
with Joh. Christoph's composition the chorus plainly 
reveals the characteristics and limitations of Sebastian's 

See Vol. I., p. 51. 


genius. A composer of oratorio, like Handel, would have 
made nothing of it, even if the external conditions had 
offered themselves; but Bach's style was precisely what 
was required in church music. In the soprano air, to the 
quaint words : 

Gott schickt uns Mahanaim zu, God shields us with the Mahanaim, 
Wir stehen oder gehen Whether we stay or go 

So konnen wir in sichrer Ruh We walk in safety all the same, 
Fur unsern Feinden stehen. Nor fear our ghostly foe. 

(Gen. xxxii., 2.) 

the image of " Mahanaim " the angelic hosts which guard 
humanity at every step is beautifully set before us by a 
close tissue of music woven out of the principal melody. 
The tenor air is even more profoundly significant in its 
combinations. The orchestra accompanies the voice with a 
Siciliano, which is almost independent of it, while the 
trumpet rings out the melody of the chorale " Herzlich lieb 
hab ich dich o Herr " " Thee, Lord, I love with all my 
heart." This calls our thoughts, not to the first verse, but 
to the last : 

Ach Herr, lass dein lieb Engelein Thy ministering angels send 

Am letzten End die Seele mein O Lord ! my parting soul to tend ; 

In Abrahams Schooss tragen, To Abraham's bosom take me. 

Den Leib in sein'm Schlafkam- My body in the grave shall spend 


GarsanftohneingeQualund Pein The days in quiet, till the end 

Ruhn bis am jiingsten Tage ! When the last trump shall wake me. 

Alsdann vom Tod erwecke mich, And grant me then with gladden'd 


Dass meine Augen sehen dich To see Thy glory in the skies 

In aller Freud, o Gottessohn, O Lord ! in perfect joy and peace ; 

Mein Heiland und Genaden My Saviour, fount, and throne of 

Thron ! grace ! 

Herr Jesu Christ ! Lord Jesu Christ ! 

Erhore mich, erhore mich ! O hear Thou me ! O hear Thou me ! 

Ich will dich preisen ewiglich ! Thee will I praise eternally. 

The length of the stanza resulted in an unusual expansion 
of the aria. It is requisite to conceive of the chorale melody 
as forming the nucleus of it in order not to feel the movement 
altogether too long. However, we can perceive how this 
combination serves as a preparation for the closing chorale, 

LEIPZIG CANTATAS, 1724 1727. 4! I 

which leads our thoughts away from the warlike images of 
the commencement to the peace of the blessed dead. 431 

The second cantata text which Picander arranged in part 
from the collection of his poems belongs to the seventeenth 
Sunday after Trinity, 1725, and begins with the Bible text 
" Bringet her dem Herrn Ehre seines Namens " (Psalm 
xxix., 2). In 1725 the seventeenth Sunday after Trinity fell 
on September 23, so this cantata must have been performed 
six days before that for Michaelmas. Thus, if we had closely 
followed the chronological order we ought to have studied it 
first. Since, however, the text is a less evident instance of 
the method on which Picander worked, and the composition 
generally would give rise to few observations of any interest, 
it is more fitly placed after the St. Michael's cantata. The 
subject of it is the feeling of rejoicing in the Lord in His 
Sanctuary, and though it is far from being so grand a work 
as the St. Michael's cantata, it is nevertheless of such high 
merit as to hold its place well by the side of it. The first 
chorus has a particular soaring swing, with a stamp of 
vigorous nationality ; it is an effective union of homophonic 
sections and fugal subjects on very productive themes. The 
alto aria, accompanied by three oboes and figured bass, 
breathes of the solemn and joyful Sabbath feeling of the 
worshipping Christian. 422 

The third of the four cantatas written between 1724 and 
1728, of which we can exactly fix the date, belongs to the 
beginning of February, 1727, and the text is by Picander. 
This, like the cantata " Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele," of 
1724, has a two-fold purpose ; it was intended both for a 
church cantata and for occasional music. In its first applica- 
tion it belonged to the feast of the Purification, February 2 ; 
and in the second it was adapted to a mourning ceremonial 
held only four days later. Johann Christoph von Ponickau, 
the elder, Lord of Pomssen, Naunhoff, Grosszschocher and 
Winddorff, Chamberlain, Hof- und Appellationsrath, had 

441 B.-G., II., No. 19. The autograph score and original parts, which are 
in the Royal Library at Berlin, offer no special evidence as to the date 
of the work. 

" See Appendix A., No. 38. 


died in October, 1726, in the 75th year of his age, and was 
buried October 31, in the family tomb at Pomssen. He 
had acquired many honours in Saxony, and had become a 
highly respected and important personage. Picander him- 
self had good reason to be grateful to him, and gave 
expression to this feeling in his mourning ode. On February 
6, 1727, a solemn mourning service was performed in 
memory of the deceased in the church at Pomssen ; 
Picander wrote for the occasion the text beginning " Ich 
lasse dich nicht " "I will not leave Thee except Thou 
bless me " and Bach composed the music. 428 It would 
seem as though he had done so less from an impulse of his 
own than to oblige the poet who was his friend, and for 
his part was more engaged in considering how the music 
could be made at the same time to serve the purposes of the 
church service. The text avoids all personal allusions 
probably by Bach's desire and without the alteration of a 
single word could be used for the Purification a few days 
previously. The composition throughout has no specially 
solemn character ; it is a grave and meditative composition 
in the strain of feeling of the words of the aged Simeon 
"Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace." 
There is no chorus whatever but the last chorale. 

Fourthly, we must mention the cantata " Herz und Mund 
und That und Leben," which was probably written for the 
Fourth Sunday in Advent, 1716, in Weimar ; but it had 
undergone a very comprehensive revision in Leipzig, and, 
as music was not used in the Advent season, it was now 
adapted to the Visitation of the Virgin Mary. Though it is 
not absolutely certain, it is extremely probable that this was 
not done before I727. 424 

There now follows a series of church cantatas, of which 
all that can be said with any certainty is that they were 
written between 1723 and 1727. 

4K S. Schwartz, Historische Nachlese Zu denen Geschichten der Stadt 
Leipzig ; Leipzig, 1744, 4, p. 33. The autograph of Bach's cantata is not 
known to exist. I only have seen it in a copy preserved in the Royal Library 
at Berlin. 

434 See Vol. I., pp. 574 and 643. Appendix A., No. 39. 

LEIPZIG CANTATAS, 17241727. 413 

I. For the New Year, " Herr Gott dich loben wir." In 
speaking of the cantata " Jesus nahm zu sich die Zwolfe " 
"Jesus called to Him the twelve " it has already been 
pointed out that Bach by no means disdained to accommodate 
himself on occasion to the taste of the Leipzig public, and 
of all his church compositions that are known to us, this, for 
the New Year, is the one in which an intentional return to 
Telemann's mode of writing is most manifest. Not, to be 
sure, in the first movement, which is a splendid chorale 
for the chorus on the first four lines of the Te Deum; 
in this form Bach could borrow nothing from Telemann, 
nor, indeed, could Telemann have followed in his steps, 
even at a remote distance. But a quite different spirit 
seems to speak to us in the second chorus, " Lasst uns 
jauchzen, lasst uns freuen " " Come rejoicing, come with 
gladness." The alternation of the bass and the full choir, 
the pleasing style of the melody, the incisive style of 
expression, the handling of the chorus all this is decep- 
tively like Telemann's choral subjects, 425 though on a closer 
inspection we at once find traces of Bach's more powerful 
mind. Bach's connection with Telemann did not rest 
merely on personal friendship ; he by no means undervalued 
him as a composer, and transcribed with his own hand 
one of Telemann's cantatas for use in his Leipzig per- 
formances. 426 Again, in the very tuneful and fervent tenor 
air " Geliebter Jesu, du allein," we cannot fail to detect 
a reflection from the solo airs by Reiser and Telemann. 
Comparing this with the tenor aria of the cantata discussed, 
No. IV. (pp. 404 and 350), we at once perceive a certain 
affinity in their vein of feeling. 427 

II. Third Sunday after Epiphany, " Herr wie du willt, so 
schicks mit mir " "Lord, as Thou wilt so let it be." 428 

4K Only to give one example, I would refer the reader to Telemann s 
Whitsuntide cantata " Ich bin der erste und der letzte " "I am the first 
and the last " and particularly the chorus " Auf, lasst uns jauchzen.'' 

426 Machet die Thore weit " " Open wide the gates " which exists in 
Bach's autograph in the Royal Library at Berlin. 

4 " B.-G., II., No. 16. P. 1286. See Appendix A., No. 40. 

B.-G., XVIII., No. 73. P. 1676. See Appendix A., No. 19. 


The chorale chorus at the beginning, which refers, though 
only incidentally, to a passage in the Gospel, displays a form 
which in many respects is new. It is intersected throughout 
by recitative portions which carry out the ideas suggested 
by Melissander's hymn. We often meet with such a scheme 
in Picander's sacred texts ; the last aria of " Ich lasse dich 
nicht " is on a similar plan, and so is the beginning of a 
text written for the third Sunday after Epiphany, 1729 ; 
we may, therefore, conclude that the words of this cantata 
are by him. The chorale is in four parts, and so far 
homophonic as that the voices are never interfered with 
by imitative elaborations. The instruments are perfectly 
independent. Before and between the lines a ritornel comes 
again and again, always the same, but differing in key after 
each line, and it does duty as an accompaniment to the 
recitatives. A singular use is also made of one of the subjects 
of the chorale. A horn, which supports the Cantus firmus, 439 
and at first plays a little prelude, asserts itself now and 
then as a subsidiary supported by the strings, giving out 
the first lines of the melody in a dismembered form and 
in diminution. This is particularly the case with the notes 
that fall on the words " Herr wie du willt " : 

which are brought in in diminution over and over again. 

At last, long after the chorus has done its part, it seems 
suddenly to understand the idea that the composer has been 
incessantly suggesting to it by the instruments ; three 
times again, at long intervals, we hear it briefly ejacu- 
lating " Lord, as Thou wilt," breaking off at last on 
the dominant seventh, when the instruments come in with 
a rapid closing cadence. But the whole purport of this 
singular tone-picture is not disclosed till we come to the 
bass aria, which precedes the final chorale. The text 
consists of three verses of four lines each, all beginning 

"> Bach afterwards allotted the horn part to the Riickpositiv of the organ 
of St. Thomas'. 

LEIPZIG CANTATAS, 1724 1727. 415 

with the words "Lord, as Thou wilt." Bach designates 
this movement as an Aria, though it is in fact a form of 
his own invention. He works out in it the idea of the first 
chorus in such a way as plainly shows that this hymn was 
in his mind when he wrote the chorus. The theme is given 
out by the voice without any preliminary notes in the 
instruments : 

Herr, so du willt, 

they immediately take it up and repeat it in diminution, but 
the rhythm alone being identical with that of the theme : 

and they work it out with pertinacity. The accompaniment 
in semiquavers is also borrowed from the first chorus. The 
feeling of a man who bows in humble submission before the 
incomprehensible counsels of the Almighty is here expressed 
with the deepest fervour. From the passage where the 
strings pizzicato imitate the tolling of a knell, a sort of 
vision of peace seems t& be revealed through the dismal gate 
of death. 480 

III. Third Sunday after Epiphany, " Alles nur nach 
Gottes Willen " m " Lord, Thy will alone obeying." This 
text is from Franck's " Evangelisches Andachtsopfer," and 
certainly one of the most suggestive. It follows out the 
same line of thought as the former cantata, and it would 
almost seem as though one had influenced the other ; at the 
same time, the feeling in the former is emphasised rather in 
the sense of a pious resignation to the sufferings of life, while 
in this work that blissful contentment is praised which has 
its root in the assurance that the hand of a loving father 
is to be traced in everything. The imaginative features 
and gloomy colouring of the former cantata do not exist 
here, but a trustful and childlike devotion of most touching 

480 Compare Vol. I., p. 553. 

B.-G.. XVIII., No. 72. P. 1299. See App. A., No. 41. 


power. This feeling finds its strongest expression in the 
soprano aria " Mein Jesus will es thun " "This will my 
Saviour do, my sorrows He will sweeten " one of the most 
lovely vocal pieces Bach ever wrote ; but the remainder is 
no less delightful in its way : the less tranquil alto aria 
" Mit Allem was ich hab und bin " " With all I have, and 
as I am " the arioso which precedes it, in which rhythms of 
two and three time respectively are intermingled with such 
wonderful effect, and the preliminary chorus which marches 
on in such magnificent breadth, and overflows with fervent 

IV. Septuagesima Sunday, " Nimm was dein ist und gehe 
hin " " Take that thine is, and go thy way." 432 The cantata 
begins with a fugue, in which the resolute, nay stern, repudia- 
tion of the fancied claims of the workmen for fairer payment 
is treated with almost dramatic force. It is a pity that the 
writer of the text should have so inadequately grasped the 
deeper meaning of the Gospel parable of the householder who 
hires labourers for his vineyard, that he could find nothing 
better to say about it than the praises of contentment ; this 
must necessarily impair the interest of the music. What 
Bach did with the trivial couplets is of course full of ingenuity 
and purpose, but it does not stir us deeply ; still, this 
cantata seems to have become very popular, and the text 
was used by several composers. 433 

V. Sexagesima Sunday, " Leichtgesinnte Flattergeister " 
" Empty thoughts of worldly folly." The bass aria at 
the beginning, figuring the empty and foolish thoughts that 
scatter the blessings of the Divine word to the winds, is a 
characteristic composition, full of individuality. The finale 
is an independent chorus in the Italian aria form ; it is a 

432 The autograph score in the Royal Library at Berlin. Published in 
" Kirchengesange fur Solo-und Chor- Stimmen mil Instrumentalbegleitung von 
Joh. Seb. Bach." Berlin, Trautwein, No. i. See App. A., No. 19. 

433 The first chorus of this work of Bach is quoted as a model by Marburg, 
for its admirable declamation, " Kritische Tonkunst," Vol. I., p. 381. He speaks 
of a public performance of it. The beginning of the alto aria " Murre nicht, 
lieber Christ," is quoted by Sulzer, " Allgemeine Theorie der schonen Kiinste," 
Part IV., p. 267, Leipzig, 1779, but to another setting. I have not been able to 
make any further inquiries in this direction. 

LEIPZIG CANTATAS, 1724 1727. 417 

fugue, but simple and popular in subject, and must originally 
have belonged to a secular work. 

VI. First Sunday after Easter, " Halt im Gedachtniss 
Jesum Christ " " Keep in remembrance Jesus Christ." 
Here again we have a work which must satisfy every 
requirement, even as regards the text. The beautiful Gospel 
narrative of how, after His resurrection, Jesus appeared 
among His disciples, bidding them " Peace be with you," 
and strengthening their faith, is clearly reflected in the text, 
which is made up of well-chosen passages from the Bible, 
suitable chorales, and melodious verse. It reminds us of 
Franck's manner, and if Picander wrote it he surpassed 
himself. There is but one solo in this cantata irrespective 
of a few short recitatives a beautiful tenor aria. In the 
first chorus a splendid fugal movement freely worked out 
on two principal themes Scheibe would have found a perfect 
example of that " poetic embellishment and graceful expres- 
sion " which he demanded as the conditions of adequate and 
expressive church music. About half-way through the 
work, the Easter chorale " Erschienen ist der herrlich 
Tag" " The glorious day has now arrived " is brought in 
with great effect. From the words of the recitative which 
leads up to it we see that the same chorale must have been 
previously sung by the congregation. This was not prescribed 
by rule, so Bach must have expressly determined that this 
hymn should be used on this occasion. 434 The next chorus 
is extremely peculiar ; it is designated as an Aria, from the 
verse form of the text. The bass sings the words of Christ, 
" Peace be on you all," to a tender and deeply felt melody 
below a soft floating accompaniment on the flute and oboes. 
Against this, the three upper voice-parts express by word 
and note their faith and confidence in Christ's protection and 
aid ; the whole dies away in the lingering benediction of the 
bass, and then the chorale " Du Friedefurst Herr Jesu 
Christ " " Thou Prince of Peace, Lord Jesu Christ " once 
more briefly concentrates the leading idea of the cantata. 435 

i84 See ante, p. 231. 

" B.-G., Xyi., No. 67. P. 1293. See App. A., No. 19. 
IT. 2 E 


VII. Second Sunday after Easter, " Du Hirte Israel " 
" Shepherd of Israel." A sacred pastoral, which exhibits 
a beautiful combination of tenderness and gravity, grace and 
depth. The rhythm of the first chorus is, properly speaking, 
not to be regarded as in 3-4 time, but in 9-8, since the 
beat throughout is chiefly in triplets, and the rhythmical 
figure J""5 according to the custom of that time should be 
read J ; , J" (see Vol. I., p. 563). By this means, and by the 
heavy droning bass like a bagpipe, the stamp of pastoral 
music is delicately impressed on the composition. Besides 
its wonderful melodic charm, this chorus is at the same 
time a masterpiece of artistic structure. In the vocal parts, 
homophonic sections alternate with fugal workings out ; three 
schalmeien (oboes) are added to the three upper parts to 
give them support and colour. The stringed instruments 
meanwhile involve them in a glittering network of rising 
and falling figures, always however perfectly independent. 
Bach had never before composed such a work ; it is a fresh 
evidence of his inexhaustible imagination. We may compare 
the pastoral symphony of the Christmas oratorio as the only 
worthy pendant to this movement in feeling and in the 
delightful magic of its harmonious development, as well as in 
the combination of different qualities of tone. The bass air 
has in many respects a similar character, while, on the other 
hand, the tenor aria which comes between it and the chorus 
expresses that dejected sentiment which is naturally aroused 
by such passages in the Psalms as " Though I walk through 
the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no ill," and " As the 
hart panteth for the waterbrooks, so longeth my soul for 
Thee, O God " ; and it is certain that Bach had these passages 
in his thoughts, since the text is to much the same effect, 
and a stanza of Psalm xxiii. versified forms the close of the 
cantata 436 

VIII. Second Sunday after Easter, " Wo gehst du hin ? " 
" Where goest thou ? " The text, like those of many of Bach's 
cantatas, reveals a lamentable incapacity on the part of the 
writer for grasping the idea of the Gospel and giving it a 

M B.-G., XXIII., No. 104. P. 1680. See App. A., No. 19. 

LEIPZIG CANTATAS, 17241727. 419 

poetic form. After a slight reference to it we find ourselves 
once more in the beaten track of exhortation to think of 
heaven, and reflections on the transitoriness of all earthly 
things. It is a source of constant astonishment how Bach 
was always equal to the occasion, and could always produce 
new and still new forms and styles to give life to this 
poetical monotony. The work is a solo cantata, for, 
excepting the closing chorale, no chorus in many parts, at 
any rate is employed. The first and third sections claim 
our particular attention ; in the former Bach has found it 
possible to compose an aria on a text of four words, which, 
moreover, merely put a question, " Wo gehst du bin ? " 
It has a singular effect from the phrases, in three bars 
each, of which it is constructed. In the third number the 
soprano sings the third verse of Ringwald's hymn " Herr 
Jesu Christ ich weiss gar wohl," while the instruments 
carry on a two-part counterpoint. In this piece we meet 
for the first time with a complete and deliberate transfer of 
the organ trio to vocal music ; in the cantata " Erfreute 
Zeit im neuen Bunde " we found scarcely more than an 
attempt at it. It was during the early period of his residence 
in Leipzig that he composed his six great organ sonata 
trios ; hence we here see the outcome of his labours in 
this direction. 487 

IX. Rogation Sunday, " Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage 
euch, so ihr den Vater bitten werdet " " Verily, verily, I 
say unto you, that ye shall pray to the Father." This is a 
work which bears the most obvious and close relationship 
with the next preceding one, both in purport and date. The 
arrangement of the text is precisely the same ; first a text 
taken from the Bible, then an aria, chorale, recitative, aria, 
and final chorale. The means of which Bach has availed 
himself are also identical, even the arias are for the same 
voices, but in reversed order ; each, however, begins with a 
solo in the bass and ends with a simple four-part chorale. 
The chorale subject in the middle, on the last verse of 

487 The original parts of the Cantata are in the Royal Library at Berlin. 
See App. A., No. 19. 

2 E 2 



" Kommt her zu mir, spricht Gottes Sohn," reveals in both 
cases a form borrowed from the organ ; in this cantata 
three parts are employed in the counterpart, but the melodic 
character of the parts is nearly related in the two. In the 
cantata " Wo gehst du hin ? " it begins thus : 

In " Wahrlich, wahrlich," it is thus : 

Bach was wont to give Bible words in the arioso form to 
one single voice, because any adaptation of the opera forms 
might so easily seem profane ; and when, for once, he 
deviated from this rule in the cantata " Wo gehst du hin ? " 
it certainly arose from the peculiarities of the text. It is 
true that the movement which stands at the beginning of 
" Wahrlich, wahrlich," is not an arioso ; but the dignified 
attitude which befits the composition of a Bible text is 
attained in another way a way, it is true, in which none 
but such a master as Bach could venture to walk ; he has 
entangled the song in a regular four-part instrumental 
fugue, and so worked it out that for the most part it 
constitutes an independent fifth part ; it is only now and then 
that it flows in unison with the instrumental bass, and thus 
distinctly recalls the usual type of the old-fashioned sacred 
arioso. A companion piece to this original composition is 
not wanting; we find it in the first movement of the cantata 
"O heilges Geist- und Wasserbad"; it therefore seems 
probable that the two works were written within a short 
time of each other. 438 

X. Sixth Sunday after Easter, " Sie werden euch in 
den Bann Thim" "They shall cast out your name as evil" 
(G miner). This text again is precisely similar in its con- 
struction to those of the last two cantatas, and the 
composition also displays a general resemblance to them, 

* B.-G., XX., 1 No. 86. See App. A., No. 19. 

LEIPZIG CANTATAS, 17241727. 42! 

particularly in the two arias. The opening piece is a duet 
for the tenor and bass, afterwards taken up by the chorus. 
The greatest polyphonic skill prevails throughout the duet, 
which may be compared with that in the duet in the 
cantata " Du wahrer Gott und Davidssohn " (see p. 350). 
The chorus, on the other hand, with its popular style of 
arrangement and easily understood polyphony, reminds us 
of the choruses in "Jesus nahm zu sich die Zwolfe " (see 
p. 353) and " Ein ungefarbt Gemiithe " (see p. 358). Some- 
thing perfectly new is revealed to us again in the middle 
chorale movement " Ach Gott, wie manches Herzelied." 
It is a free imitation, not of any organ trio or quatuor, but 
of Bohm's type of chorale treatment. 439 The simple chorale 
itself is sung by the tenor, accompanied only by a figured 
bass, and that in phrases developed by diminution from the 
first line of the chorale, which by their chromatic dis- 
locations are intended to convey the idea of " heart- 
sickness." As the verse consists of only four lines the 
subject is soon over, almost too soon for its whole 
significance to be grasped and understood. In a cantata 
written much later, Bach worked out this melody in the 
same way, 440 only, instead of one voice, he employs a four- 
part chorus. But in the later composition the effect pro- 
duced is greater, because recitatives are inserted between 
the lines of the chorale, and the hearer consequently has 
time afforded him to take in the original structure of the 
form. The closing chorale of the present cantata is the last 
verse of Flemming's hymn, " In alien meinen Thaten." 441 

XI. First Sunday after Trinity, " O Ewigkeit, du 
Donnerwort " " Eternity ! that awful word." Rist's hymn 
is the basis for the text, the first, second, and sixteenth 
verses being transcribed bodily ; the remainder, excepting 
verses seven and eight which are omitted, is cast in the 
madrigal form. We must recognise Picander's hand in 
this work, for it is worked out in precisely the same 

439 Compare Vol. I., p. 206. 

410 "Ach Gott wie manches Herzeleid," A major ; B.-G., I , p. 84. 

41 B.-G., X., No. 44. P. 1659. See App. A., No. 19. 


way as the Michaelmas cantata " Es erhub sich ein 
Streit." The work is in two portions, each concluding 
with a verse of a chorale set to the same harmonies ; thus 
quite in the manner frequently found in Bach's earlier 
Leipzig cantatas. It is evident that in this one he worked 
con amore ; in it a passionate agitation is combined with a 
mighty and imposing solemnity. Through four arias and a 
duet the image of the awfulness of the Divine Judge and 
of eternal torment is brought home to the personality of 
the hearer, and displayed with all the dramatic vividness 
the limitations of church music admit. The separate 
numbers are in strong contrast to each other, so that 
although it is the same idea which is varied in them, our 
keenest interest is kept up to the end ; and it adds to the 
vigour of the expression that, as a whole, it is brief and abrupt. 
Even in the opening chorus we are already made to feel 
that personal and passionate conception of the subject 
which, to a certain extent, we always meet with in Bach, 
but which is the especial stamp of this work. We need 
only study the phrases given in the counterpoint on the 
first and third lines of the chorale to the three deepest 
parts ; the tremor which takes possession of the instruments 
in bars 13, 17, 23, and 27, and the terrified flight, as it were, 
of the combined rhythm in bar go. Besides, this chorus 
affords the third instance in the course of Bach's early years 
at Leipzig of the adaptation of the French ouverture to 
church music. In the cantatas " Preise Jerusalem den 
Herrn " and " Hochst erwiinschtes Freudenfest "it is not, 
however, founded on a chorale; here, as a chorale is 
amalgamated with the overture form, the cantata affords a 
striking pendant to the Advent cantata "Nun komm der 
Heiden Heiland," written in I7I4. 442 

XII. Feast of St. John the Baptist, " Ihr Menschen 
riihmet Gottes Liebe " " O men, declare God's loving- 
kindness " a cantata of less importance, and which offers 
hardly any opportunity for special observation. Its character 
is cheerful and pleasing, the forms simple and easy to under- 

442 See Vol. I., p. 507. 

LEIPZIG CANTATAS, 1724 1727. 423 

stand. It is only in the middle duet with oboe da caccia 
that the master has displayed his higher art ; and this even 
is marred by a certain dryness, which we cannot wonder at 
when we consider the vapid emptiness of the words. A 
graceful feature may be mentioned in the way in which the 
bass recitative which precedes the final chorale appears as 
a sort of prelude to the first line. The form of the chorale 
itself is that already known from the cantata "Jesus nahm 
zu sich die Zwb'lfe." 443 

XIII. Eighth Sunday after Trinity, " Erforsche mich 
Gott und erfahre mein Herz " " Search me, O God, and 
know my heart." It would be possible to select from among 
Bach's cantatas a group which might be designated "orthodox 
compositions," and this one would be included in it. It 
is full of a stern zeal verging on severity, which is peculiar 
to Bach among the sacred composers of the time, and 
which, in this cantata, is most conspicuous in the important 
opening chorus. The conception of the Bible words, 
Psalm cxxxix., 23, to which it is composed, was suggested 
by the Gospel for the day, which is directed against false 
prophets one of the most fertile themes for an orthodox 
preacher. 444 

XIV. Ninth Sunday after Trinity, "Thue Rechnung! 
Donnerwort " " Day of reckoning ! awful word." The 
text is from Franck's " Evangelische Andachtsopfer," 
hence, we must suppose that the work is an early Leipzig 
composition. Apparently Bach wrote it in the same year 
as the cantata " Ihr, die ihr euch von Christo nennet " 
(see p. 361). 445 It has no chorus but the final chorale. Of 
the solo pieces, the tenor aria is unsatisfactory by reason of 
its truly amazing text, " Capital und Interessen " " Capital 
and interest of my sins, both great and small ; I must soon 
account for all ! " The bass aria, on the contrary, and the 
duet for soprano and alto are splendid examples of force and 
of characteristic treatment. 

448 The original parts are in the Royal Library at Berlin. See Appendix A., 
No. 19. 

444 The original parts in the Royal Library at Berlin. See Appendix A. , No. 19. 
* 4i See Vol. I., Appendix A., No. 26, p. 640. 


XV. Ninth Sunday after Trinity, " Herr, gehe nicht ins 
Gericht " " Lord, enter not into judgment." This has the 
character of a fervent and supplicatory penitential prayer, 
and the orchestra begins in G minor with the two upper 
parts worked out in canon ; in the closing cadenza the four- 
part chorus comes in with " Enter not into judgment with 
Thy servant, O Lord," Psalm cxliii., 2. It derives nothing 
from the instrumental subject but the motive of the canon 
treatment, the other parts are constructed out of freshly 
introduced ideas over a ground bass. At the end of six 
bars the voices are silent again, while the instruments 
repeat their inarticulate penitential hymn on the fifth above. 
It then is worked out in double counterpoint, and the same 
is done in the chorus which comes in again eight bars later, 
the soprano answering the tenor, the alto the soprano, 
and the tenor the alto. The instruments then borrow a 
rhythmical motive from the chorus, and work it out into 
an independent picture which is welded with the chorus into 
a masterly whole. Once more there is a brief pause in 
the chorus, while the instruments carry on their motive, at 
the same time referring distinctly to a certain passage of 
the opening subject bar 5. Now, for the third time, the 
chorus comes in, emphasising and freely working out the 
principal subject ; at last it gives out its own penitential 
cry, going through it completely in the middle range of 
compass, as if it flowed straight from the hearts of the 
singing host. The chorus ended, the feeling is allowed to 
die softly away on a long organ point on the dominant. 
An admirably constructed adagio subject is immediately 
followed by an animated fugue, " For in Thy sight shall 
no man living be justified." We might place at the head 
of this movement, as an appropriate motto, the words 
"I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God"; the treat- 
ment of the resolute theme leads in many places to 
passages which rage and roll like angry billows. Once we 
suddenly come to a long piano passage an extremely 
rare device with Bach and this presently sinks even to 
pianissimo, as though man were cowering to hide from the 
dreadful eye of God. The remainder of the cantata is 

LEIPZIG CANTATAS, 1724 1727. 425 

in no way inferior to the impressive effect of this opening 

Wie zittern und wanken, The sinful must languish, 

Der Sunder Gedanken, In torment and anguish ; 

Indem sie sich unter einander They turn on each other with 

verklagen, impotent railing, 

Und wiederum sich zu entschul- Or plead their temptations with 

digen wagen. bitter bewailing. 

So wird ein geangstigt Gewissen Thus racked by its self-accusation 

Durch eigene Folter zerrissen. Their guilt works its own con- 

So runs the text of the first aria, to which Bach has set a 
composition of the greatest originality. A tremulous semi- 
quaver figure on the violins goes on throughout, while the 
soprano, with an oboe concertante, sings a boldly constructed 
and impressive melody. No figured bass is added, the 
lowest part is given to the viola in a steady slow tremolo 
of quavers. A secret terror, and at the same time a profound 
grief pervades the whole air. A change comes over it with 
the accompanied recitative for the bass which follows : "In 
Jesus ist Trost, er uns einst die ewigen Hiitten." 
None but Bach could have found tones of such deep pathos 
to express these words ; they introduce an artistically con- 
structed aria for the tenor, overflowing with the sentiment 
of restored calm. Its rhythm is particularly noteworthy. 
The words it begins with : " Kann ich nur Jesum mir zum 
Freunde machen " " If only Jesus be my Friend and 
Saviour" Bach has adapted to a phrase of which the periods 
fall into a half and a whole bar in common time : 



Kann ich nur Je - sum mir zumFreun-de ma - chen, 

and the three notes of the first half-bar are subsequently 
used very ingeniously for episodic phrases. The closing 
chorale combines the two main ideas of the cantata dread 
and reassurance are both expressed in it. The vocal part 
speaks of reassurance, and the violins which re-echo the 
soprano air in trembling semiquavers keep up the feeling 
of fear. But by degrees the beating heart becomes calmer 


and more peaceful : the semiquavers sink to triplets of 
quavers, then simple quavers, then to tied (J 3 J*) triplets, 
and finally in the last bar to crotchets. It is clear that 
Bach intended to keep the memory of the soprano air alive 
to the very last, because at the end the chorale is played on 
the instruments without any figured bass, but with the viola 
for the deepest part. 

It is impossible sufficiently to admire the successful 
combination of antagonistic feeling in this composition ; it 
opens before us a realm of music utterly unknown to any 
of Bach's forerunners and contemporaries. The song of 
Orestes in " Iphigenia in Tauris," " Le calme rentre dans 
mon cceur," is justly praised as Gluck's chef d'ceuvre in 
dramatic music, but he was not the first to disclose under 
a musical aspect the inmost depths of the inarticulate 
complication of human feeling; half a century before him 
Bach had solved the problem with no less mastery. 

I must not here omit to notice a singular reminiscence of 
Handel's Passion music to Brockes' text, part of which Bach 
had copied with his own hand, probably in the later Cb'then 
period. The progress of the melody of the soprano air is 
free and animated, but one passage startles us by its studied 
and almost forced style, which does not duly harmonise with 
the rest. It is in bar 28, &c., which is as follows : 

so wird ein ge ang - stet Ge - wis - sen 

In Handel's Passion this passage occurs : *** 

den - ket, dass die Straf schon kei - met 

I feel convinced that Bach in this place was carried away 
by his remembrance of this very beautiful and impressive 
passage ; that Handel's work was exerting an influence on 
him throughout this composition it is fair to conclude from 
the use of the oboe in imitation, and the feeling all through 
is very similar. This bears important testimony to the 

German Handel Society's edition, part XV., p. 80, bar 3. 

LEIPZIG CANTATAS, 1724 1727. 427 

interest which Bach took in the works of his great con- 
temporary, and the reader will remember that it is not the 
only instance. 447 

XVI. Tenth Sunday after Trinity, " Schauet doch und 
sehet, ob irgend ein Schmerz sei, wie mein Schmerz " 
" Behold and see, if there be any sorrow like unto my 
sorrow." This cantata is a companion piece to the previous 
one, and they were undoubtedly composed at the same time ; 
they are alike in structure and in feeling too, so far as 
the different characteristics of the subjects admit. In the 
Gospel for the day, Jesus prophesies with weeping the 
coming destruction of Jerusalem ; the text, as adapted to 
this conception, is very unskilfully managed. It alludes 
first to the former destruction by Nebuchadnezzar, and then 
makes an awkward transition to the coming fall under Titus, 
drawing from it an application to the judgment impending 
over all mankind, of whom Jesus will nevertheless tenderly 
shield the pious. As the musical treatment gives the 
greatest weight to the beginning, the work as a whole lacks 
directness and clearness of dramatic purpose. This is much 
to be regretted, for in the conception and working-out of 
individual parts the cantata is one of the most striking and 
thrilling works that Bach ever created. The whole essence 
of the lamentation of Jeremiah is compressed into the first 
chorus (in D minor) with quite incomparable force ; every 
note is tearful, and every interval a sigh. As in the cantata 
" Herr gehe nicht ins Gericht," the chorus consists of a 
slow subject developed in canonic imitations by the voice 
parts, and of a lively fugue. The first has sixty-six bars, the 
second seventy-six, in 3-4 time thus it is of some con- 
siderable length ; and yet it is not more than enough to 
convey the sentiment which it has to express. In certain 
carefully chosen passages the chorus is supported by a 
trumpet and two oboi da caccia, while the stringed quartet 
and two flutes play round and about the adagio subject in 
graceful and appropriate arabesque. Certain sobbing 
passages on the flute remind us distinctly of the chorale 

447 See ante, p. 175. B.-G., XXIII., No. 105. See App. A., No. 19. 


for chorus in the Passion according to St. Matthew, " O 
Mensch, bewein dein Siinde gross " ; 448 but in the Passion the 
sentiment is qualified by thankfulness for the Redeemer's 
death, while in the cantata there is no comfort for the 
burning anguish that torments the soul ; these two wonderful 
compositions stand in contrast like the Old and New Covenant. 
Next to the chorus our attention is most rivetted by the grand 
bass aria " Dein Wetter zog sich auf von weitem." The 
main idea, rising in thirds from the B of the instrumental 
bass : 


Dein Wet-ter zog sich auf , von wei - tern 

has in it something mysteriously terrible which scarcely any 
other composer could have found means of expressing ; this 
feeling is enhanced by the long-drawn f " high above all in 
the trumpets, 449 like a shaft of light piercing the dark storm- 
clouds and giving, as has been aptly observed, " a red hue 
as of blood." 450 The chromatic rise and fall in the middle, 
bar for bar (45 to 54 and 67 to 76), of the instrumental bass 
is highly effective. The alto air, G minor, which is accom- 
panied only by the flutes and oboes without any figured bass, 
paraphrases the words of Christ, " How often would I have 
gathered thy children," &c., Matt, xxiii., 37, and has a 
soothing though solemn character, as befits the context. In 
the closing chorale the ninth verse of Meyfart's hymn, 
" O grosser Gott von Macht " we again hear the flute 
passages of the opening chorus in brief interludes ; this is a 
reference to the beginning, similar to that in the final chorale 
of " Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht." 

448 This chorus was originally written for the Passion according to St. John, 
and was already in existence when Bach composed the cantata in question. 
More will be said on the subject when we deal with the Passion music. 

449 Bach here indicates, as in the opening chorus and final chorale, Tromba 
o Corno da tirarsi. The Corno da tirarsi, which is frequently put in by him 
for instance, again, in the cantata " Halt im Gedachtniss Jesum Christ *' was 
the same instrument, or a similar one, as the Tromba da tirarsi, in which a 
combination was attempted of the trumpet with the trombone. Kuhnau speaks 
of it in the " Musikalischer Quacksalber," p. 82. 

450 Lindner, Zur Tonkunst, p. 124. Berlin, Guttentag, 1864. 

LEIPZIG CANTATAS, 1724 1727. 429 

It has already been explained (ante, p. 322) that even in a 
composition for choral singing, all use of ornament need not 
be excluded ; two passages of the first chorus here are 
examples of this. In bar 37 in the tenor, and bar 51 in the 
alto, the falling intervals of thirds are filled up by the 
addition of "accents"; in the voice parts these are not 
indicated, though they are in the accompanying oboes. 451 
Of course they must be used in every part, or no intelligible 
harmony could result, though it is true they thus cease to 
be embellishment and become part of the tune; but the limit 
line was often overlooked by Bach (see ante, p. 3I6). 452 

XVII. Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity, " Du sollst 
Gott deinen Herren lieben " " Thou shalt love the Lord 
thy God." The style of this cantata is conspicuously 
different from all we have hitherto discussed. The arias 
are considerably simpler than we are accustomed to find 
them in Bach. In one of them two instruments are intro- 
duced concertante (probably two oboes) with the soprano : 
this they carry on almost uniformly in parallel thirds or 
sixths, and we nowhere find that they work out any poly- 
phony worth mentioning. The sentiment verges on that 
quiet ecstasy which is peculiar to Bach's earliest church 
compositions, when he was still lingering on the borders of 
the old cantata. The soprano aria even reminds us very 
plainly of " Jesu dir sei Dank gesungen," from the cantata 
" Uns ist ein Kind geboren." 453 The condition of the 
autograph offers no evidence in support of the idea that 
Bach has here remodelled an older composition, unless we 
detect it in the haste with which it has been written, and 
which seems to indicate lack of leisure. As regards the 
first chorus, however, the difference of style consists in 
its presenting itself in a perfectly new form, ingeniously 

451 In the second passage the oboe part is as follows 

which seems to imply that the shake should begin on the passing note above. 
442 B.-G., X., No. 46. P. 1660. App. A., No. 19. 
453 See Vol. I., p. 491. 


conceived, and worked out in a masterly manner. The text 
is taken from the Gospel, " Du sollst Gott deinen Herrn 
lieben " " Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy 
heart, and all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with 
all thy mind, and thy neighbour as thyself" (Luke x., 27). 
Now it was not unknown to the composer, who was well 
versed in his Bible, that the incident which called forth 
this injunction is reported in a more extended form by the 
Evangelists Matthew (xxii., 35 40) and Mark (xii., 28 34); 
and the precept which follows, " On these two command- 
ments hang all the laws and the prophets," was full of 
significance to him. He brought in the melody of Luther's 
hymn, " Dies sind die heilgen zehn Gebot," in the bass in 
minims, as a Cantus firmus, working out the chorus in 
quavers from the first line of the chorale, and finally 
gave out the chorale in crotchets on the Tromba da tirarsi. 
Thus its very essence pervades every portion of the com- 
position, and closes it in on every side ; and the thought 
that all God's laws are embodied in these two precepts 
acquires the most figurative musical presentment which is in 
any way possible. 454 It is clear that the form, regarded from 
the purely musical stand-point, is that of the organ chorale ; 
we have, indeed, two real organ chorales by Bach on this 
same melody. One is in the third part of the " Clavier- 
iibung," 455 and belongs consequently to the latest period of 
Bach's work. The other is in the " Orgelbuchlein," 456 and 
so must have been written at Weimar. The later one 
treats the melody in strict canon on the octave in the inner 
parts. In the earlier organ chorale the melody lies in the 
upper part, and the counterpart is worked out from the 
first line. This chorus, therefore, as regards its musical 
treatment, holds a middle place between the two organ 
chorales. A working out in strict canon form between the 
instrumental bass and trumpet was inadmissible, since, in 
the first place, neither the value of the notes nor the 

454 W. Rust has given a sympathetic interpretation of the deep meaning of 
this chorus. B.-G., XVIII., p. xv. 
s B.-G., III., p. 206. 
p. S. V., Vol. V. (No. 244). See Vol. I., p. 600. 

LEIPZIG CANTATAS, 17241727. 43! 

intervals are the same ; and, in the second place, the 
trumpet repeats the first line after each of the others in 
order to emphasise very expressly the words " These ten 
are God's most holy laws " ; finally, the whole melody is 
repeated once more straight through, above an organ point 
on G. This playing with fragments of the melody, so to 
speak, rather points to the influence of the Northern school. 
So, indeed, does another circumstance. Bach divides the 
fourth line 

-g I & F": 

-F I i i 

hoch auf dem Berg Si - na - i 

in a singular manner into two sections, treating the first 
four notes separately, and connecting the last three with 
the Kyrie. No reason for this, either poetical or musical, is 
discernible ; it is simply a whim of that capricious art which 
the Northern composers were so ready to yield to ; and, in 
fact, something similar occurs in a chorale arrangement by 
Buxtehude. 457 Bach has followed the same course again in 
the organ chorale in the " Clavieriibung," whence we may 
conclude that he had the cantata chorus in his mind when 
he wrote it. 458 

XVIII. Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity, ** Liebster Gott, 
wann werd ich sterben ? " " Ah, Lord God, when shall I 
see Thee ? " This cantata seems to have been composed very 
nearly at the same time as that for the thirteenth Sunday 
after Trinity, " Ihr, die ihr euch von Christo nennet." 459 
Its subject consists in meditations on Death, only very 
remotely suggested by the narrative of the widow's son, 
of Nain. A verse of Neumann's hymn " Liebster Gott, 
wann werd ich sterben," is used both at the beginning and 
end in the original form ; verses two, three, and four, on 
the contrary, are so paraphrased on the " madrigal form " 
that verse two serves as the text for a tenor air, verse three 

457 Te Deum laudamus. See Spitta's edition of Buxtehude's Organ 
Compositions. Vol. II., p. 53, bar 5. 
68 B.-G., XVIII., No. 77. P. 1675. See App. A., No. 19. 
* s See ante, p. 361. 


for an alto recitative, the first half of verse four for a bass 
air, and the second half for a soprano recitative. 

The aria-like form of the hymn was due to Daniel Vetter, 
who has been frequently mentioned in this work (and who 
died in 1721) as organist to the Church of St. Nicholas, in 
Leipzig. Vetter had been a pupil of Werner Fabricius, and 
at his death, January 9, 1679, he had succeeded him as 
organist (on August n of the same year). 460 He was a native 
of Breslau, and composed this hymn at the request of his 
friend Wilisius, the cantor of St. Bernhardin at Breslau, 
for his funeral, 1695. It had become widely known and 
suffered much defacement, for which reason he republished 
it in 1713, in the second part of his Musicalischen Kirch- 
und Haus-Ergotzlichkeit 461 set for four parts. Bach must 
have known this four-part aria, for it is the same which 
appears at the end of his cantata, in a somewhat altered 
form, but easily recognisable. Here again we perceive 
that Bach held his Leipzig predecessors in due honour. 
In the first chorus the melody is treated in the form of a 
chorale fantasia (compare p. 361). This is a very remark- 
able composition the sound of tolling bells, the fragrance 
of blossoms pervade it the sentiment of a churchyard in 
spring time. The character of the piece may no doubt 
have been largely determined by the fact that it is not 
strictly a chorale but a sacred aria which is under treat- 
ment, but this does not sufficiently account for it. Rather 
might we suppose that the tender encouraging tone of the 
Gospel story had suggested the feeling, particularly when 
we regard the whole cantata ; for its gentle grace, not 
unfrequently passing into a blissful childlike playfulness, 
contrasts strangely enough with the stern gravity of Bach's 
other funeral cantatas. A knell is imitated in exactly the 
same way as in the Weimar cantata " Komm du siisse 
Todesstunde " by pizzicatos on the strings, and rapidly reite- 
rated high notes on the flute. Two oboi d'amore float along 
above the strings, now crossing each other in flowing melody, 

460 Archives of the University and of the Town Council of Leipzig 

461 Winterfeld, Ev. Kir. III., p. 487, and Musical Supplement, p. 140. 

LEIPZIG CANTATAS, 1724 1727. 433 

and now united in soft passages of thirds and sixths ; the 
piece of music thus evolved almost suffices of itself to fill 
our souls with peacefulness. Indeed, the musical impression 
of the whole rests upon it ; it consists of sixty-eight bars, 
while the homophonic chorus, which comes in interruptedly 
and gives us the original melody with no embellishments 
but a few delicate Melismata, includes altogether no more 
than twenty bars. Nevertheless its words of death attune 
our feelings to that peculiar vein of melancholy which we 
experience beside the bier of a child or a youth. The tolling 
of the bell goes on in the basses all through the highly strung 
aria given to the tenor, and sometimes even appears in the 
voice part, bars 29-31. The melodious and elaborate bass 
air and the two recitatives fully correspond in beauty to the 
other pieces. 482 

XIX. Sunday after Christmas, " Gottlob, nun geht das 
Jahr zu Ende " " All praise to God, the year has gone." 
This is the last we have to mention of Bach's cantatas 
that are composed to texts by Neumeister, 463 and as regards 
the use of the chorus it is the finest. The principal chorus 
is the second number, but such is its weight, that the finished 
beauty of the preceding soprano air hardly asserts itself, 
and all that comes after sinks into nothingness. Bach 
had taken the composition of the chorus in hand earlier 
than the rest of the work, and had sketched it first 
separately, for in the complete score it shows hardly any 
corrections and has all the appearance of a fair copy. At 
the conclusion of this gigantic work the master himself 
looked back on it with proud satisfaction he has done what 
he scarcely ever did counted up its 174 bars, and noted 
them at the end. It is a chorale for chorus on "Nun lob 
mein Seel den Herren " " My soul now praise the Lord " 
and resembles a motett in so far as that the instruments 
strings, three oboes, cornet, and three trombones work with 
the voices, and it is only the figured bass which is here and 
there allowed a way of its own. The type is that of the 

2 B.-G., I., No. 8. P. 1199. See App. A., No. 43. 
> See Vol. I., p. 487. 
II. 2 F 


Pachelbel organ chorale, elaborated to the highest degree 
of which it was capable within the limits of the motett 
form. Particularly we may note, as belonging to this form, 
the picturesque musical rendering of the separate lines of 
the verses by the use of contrapuntal parts, which interpret 
the forgiveness of " us miserable sinners " by acute chro- 
matic passages, or pour out the consolations of God as it 
were in a stream over wretched humanity, and then soar 
up " like to the eagle." Bach subsequently wrote several 
pieces of this kind, 464 and they are worthy of the first-born, 
but not one surpasses it. 465 

On September 7, 1727, a general mourning of four months 
began for the Queen Christiana Eberhardine. The inter- 
ruption this occasioned of course made a break in the 
long series of Bach's Leipzig compositions ; this is, there- 
fore, a suitable place to pause for a retrospect. Our final 
judgment as to the Weimar cantatas was much to the 
effect that in them the ideal of church music in Bach's 
hands had already been found, excepting in the one 
particular of the treatment of the chorus. 466 In spite of 
the occurrence in them of many important choral numbers, 
these are on the whole outweighed by the solo pieces, 
in which the form gives us an impression of perfect 
maturity; and the student who has thoroughly examined 
them will find very little that is new as regards form in 
Bach's later compositions for solo voices. Then it became 
evident from the Cothen cantata, " Wer sich selbst erhohet," 467 
that Bach, from his having long occupied himself in com- 
posing for the organ and other instruments, had acquired a 
complete mastery of the art of working out independent 
choral compositions in the most grand and elaborate forms. 
In the cantatas written during the first four years of his life 
at Leipzig, we again find that unlimited wealth of invention 
which the artist derived from his power of applying the 

464 " Ach Gott vom Himmel sieh darein," B.-G., I., No. 2. P. 1194. " Aus 
liefer Noth schrei ich zu dir," B.-G., VII., No. 38. P. 1694. 
< B.-G., V., 1 No. 28. See App. A., No. 41. 
<6C Vol. I., p. 565. 
467 See ante, p. 12. 

LEIPZIG CANTATAS, 17241727. 435 

forms of instrumental music to his sacred compositions in 
a way previously undreamt of; we find him unhesitatingly 
adapting parts of the chamber sonata, and utilising it as an 
instrumental openmg to the second part of the cantata, " Die 
Himmel erzahlen die Ehre Gottes." He blends the elements 
of the first movement of the Italian Concerto with true 
choral forms, as in the Magnificat and the Christmas piece, 
" Dazu ist erschienen der Sohn Gottes"; he casts whole 
cantatas in the concerto form, as " Erfreute Zeit im neuen 
Bunde," or in that of the orchestral suite, as " Hochster- 
wunschtes Freudenfest." He combines the French ouverture 
with an independently conceived chorus or even with a 
chorale, as " Preise Jerusalem, den Herrn," " O Ewigkeit, 
du Donnerwort " ; he makes the giga serve its turn as a 
sacred duet, " Aergre dich, o Seele, nicht," and the passecaille 
as the basis of a chorus of lamentation, " Weinen, Klagen." 
In the cantata " Die Elenden sollen essen " he uses the 
instruments of secular music for a chorale fantasia, and in 
the Michaelmas music, " Es erhub sich ein Streit," he takes 
a Siciliano for counterpoint to a chorale melody ; he avails 
himself of everything that he or his predecessors had ever 
invented in the whole realm of the organ chorale for his 
sacred vocal music. We meet once more with the type 
created by Pachelbel and with those of Buxtehude and 
Bohm in new and figurative modifications, sometimes pure, 
as in " Erschallet ihr Lieder " ; sometimes mixed, as in 
" Die Elenden sollen essen," " Christ lag in Todesbanden," 
" Du sollst Gott deinen Herrn lieben." The chorale, trio, 
and quartet which Bach constructed in so masterly a way 
for the organ we find again in the cantatas, " Wo gehst du 
hin ? " and " Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch," but now 
in a vocal form. He welds the orchestra and chorus together 
with a mighty hand to unite in the chorale fantasia ; he calls 
upon the instrumental chorale to accompany the irregular 
figures of the recitative (" Du wahrer Gott und Davidssohn "); 
he inserts the appealing phrase of the recitative, which has 
a personality of its own, between the sections of the chorale 
chorus (" Herr, wie du willst, so schicks mit mir "), and 
he impresses on the solo voice the polyphonic form of the 

2 F 2 


instrumental fugue (" O heilges Geist- und Wasserbad," 
" Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch ") ; and among them all 
we find the old well-known forms of the aria, the arioso, the 
recitative, and the simple chorale, but always filled with new 
meaning from a perennial fount of inexhaustible inventive- 
ness, made deeper, broader, and grander, and either linked 
together by a deep and inherent poetical purpose, or 
connected with one of his newly invented forms. All this 
may be detected on a narrower and less ambitious scale 
in his Weimar cantatas, but what distinguishes the Leipzig 
compositions from these in a very conspicuous manner is the 
lavish introduction of powerfully and boldly outlined choruses. 
Only a small proportion of the cantatas hitherto discussed 
are devoid of such numbers. It need hardly be said for it 
is evident from the descriptions given above that a variety 
worthy of Bach is to be found in them ; at the same time 
and this is characteristic of this group of cantatas the 
freely invented choruses are decidedly the more numerous 
class. The chorales for chorus which occur in the cantatas, 
" Du wahrer Gott und Davidssohn," " Christ lag in Todes- 
banden," " O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort," " Du sollst Gott 
deinen Herrn lieben," " Liebster Gott, wann werd ich 
sterben," " Gottlob, nun geht das Jahr zu ende," and in a 
few other places, are beyond a doubt thoroughly thought-out 
subjects, some of them very grand, and each and all such 
as Bach alone could compose ; nor must it be forgotten that 
the final chorus of the first portion of the Passion according 
to St. Matthew is also to be attributed to this period. But 
when we set them all in the scale against the mass of 
independent choruses written at the same time, we see at 
once that Bach's inclinations tended towards the latter. 
Their form varies, but on the whole the fugue is evidently 
preferred to any other, and is often prefaced by an adagio. 
It is highly significant as indicating Bach's attitude of mind 
towards the chorale that there are among these cantatas 
some and these by no means unimportant ones in which 
a chorale is altogether wanting (" Christen atzen diesen 
Tag"), and not a few in which it plays quite a secondary 
part. Bach found in Leipzig a public which, next to Kuhnau, 

LEIPZIG CANTATAS, 1728 173!. 437 

preferred Telemann's music above all other. Telemann's 
strength lay in a certain style of brilliant chorus, superficially 
graphic and highly effective to the general public from its 
obvious and picturesque imagery. Now, though Bach may 
never have thought of taking him for a model in this, still, 
the tendency of popular taste, which he had already taken 
into account in his examination cantata, may have been an 
incentive to him to occupy himself chiefly with the com- 
position of independent choruses, while he did not disdain 
to copy with his own hand a piece written for Advent by 
Telemann. There are indeed features in his choruses and 
solo pieces which have a certain air of Telemann about 
them ; this is most conspicuous in the cantata " Herr Gott 
dich loben wir." But we have also seen that he derived 
something from Kuhnau, and once made use of a composition 
by Vetter that had become popular. This open mind as 
regarded the works of his contemporaries and his anxiety to 
learn from them as much as possible, or at least to show his 
respect for them, and through them for the public, is a trait in 
his character which has not till now met with due recognition, 
though it is as characteristic of his art as of his nature. 



WE are now entering on the year 1728, and approaching the 
period when the work was written which to all appearance 
Bach himself valued most highly among his sacred compo- 
sitions. We must however defer (as he did) giving our 
attention to the Passion according to St. Matthew, and must 
first occupy ourselves with the church cantatas composed 
between this and 1734. It may here be pointed out, however, 
that this great work must have prevented the composition of 
any other church music, at any rate after the last months of 
1728 ; all the more so since for the new year of 1729 he had 
to compose the music for the great mourning ceremonial at 
the obsequies of Prince Leopold von Anhalt-Cb'then, and to 
conduct it at Cothen in person. It is therefore no wonder 


that we can only indicate one single cantata which may be 
attributed with tolerable certainty to 1728 : " Wer nur den 
lieben Gott lasst walten," for the fifth Sunday after Trinity. 
In this again we find clear tokens that Picander must have 
written the text, though it is true that it is not to be found 
in the cycle of cantata texts which Picander began on the 
Feast of St. John the Baptist, which fell immediately before 
the fifth Sunday after Trinity in 1728. Still, such poems 
were not invariably written solely with a view to com- 
position, and still less with the idea that they would one and 
all be set to music and performed within that same year. 468 
Besides this, Bach exercised considerable influence over the 
poet, who for a long time lived in his immediate neighbour- 
hood ; 469 it never occurred to him to set everything Picander 
put into rhyme as soon as it was written, and he expected 
something more than the details to be adapted to his wishes; 
no doubt he generally sketched the foundation lines of the 
purport and feeling of the whole. The cantata " Wer nur 
den lieben Gott " affords an instance in support of this. It is 
not wholly devoid of reference to the Gospel for the day, but 
its general tendency leads us tolerably far from it. Bach, 
in the first place, desired to make Neumark's consolatory 
hymn the central point of a composition, and Picander has 
used all the seven verses for the text ; the first, fourth, and 
last, in their original form. He also preserved the words of 
the fifth, and almost all those of the second, only he has 
woven in with them recitatives in madrigal form, and he has 
dealt freely with the meaning of the third and sixth, though 
he has preserved some of the original phrases. The attitude 
taken up by Bach with regard to the separate verses of the 
melody is precisely analogous. In the sixth, a few fragments 
of the tune are incidentally introduced into a soprano air 
(bars 23-25, 28-30, 35-37, and again 31-32 in diminution); 
the tenor aria, for which the third verse is used, reminds us 
generally of the chorale by the retention of the verse form, 
and besides this, at the beginning of each section of the 

468 See on this point Appendix A., No. 45. 

469 In the Burgstrasse ; see Das jetzt lebende und florirende Leipzig, 1736, 
p. 14; 1746-47, p. n. 

LEIPZIG CANTATAS, 1728 173!. 439 

verse, reminiscences of the corresponding parts of the melody 
are brought in transposed, the first time into the major key. 
Verses three and six are given to a solo voice which alternates 
between the long-drawn phrases of the chorale tunes and 
the more animated lines of the recitative. The rest of the 
stanzas give us the chorale form complete ; the last verse 
being a simple four-part subject ; the fourth is on the model 
of the Pachelbel organ chorale the soprano and alto singing 
counterpoint motives to the lines of the melody, which is at 
the same time played by all the instruments, and the first is 
set to a modified form of chorale fantasia. 

Such an undeviating reference to the same chorale melody 
throughout a whole work has only once before come 
under our notice, in " Christ lag in Todesbanden." But the 
difference is evident at a glance. We there meet only with 
regular church chorale forms ; however great their freedom 
and variety of treatment, a strict Cantus firmus is present 
throughout. Here, on the contrary, the chorale appears 
as the general starting point of personal devotion. This is 
not the case, however, in all the numbers, for the fourth and 
seventh verses are within the strict limits of congregational 
feeling ; but the rest express a frame of mind which strives 
to give to religious consolation a form that may answer 
to subjective needs. In each the chorale serves only as 
the nucleus the motive and incentive to the aria, but in 
such a way as that this motive is not concealed, but 
must be felt and understood by the hearer, or the piece will 
fail of its due effect. In the recitatives to each line of the 
melody appropriate reflections are added, by which means 
the chorale as a whole is dissevered and lost ; for in the bass 
recitative all its parts are not even brought in, and in the 
tenor recitative each line appears in a different key. Even 
in the opening chorus this character is plainly discernible. 
If the form of the chorale fantasia was to be successfully 
transferred to the chorus and orchestra, their relations had in 
the nature of things to be so adjusted that the delivery of the 
independent tone picture which expounds the fundamental 
feeling of the chorale should be given to the instruments, 
while the chorus filled the role of Cantus firmus. This could 


be effected in various ways, for instance, by a simple four-part 
treatment, but contrived in such a manner that some of 
the parts give out the calm flow of the melody, while others 
surround it with more rapid figures, in the course of which, 
they may, of course, sometimes approach or coincide with 
the parts given to the instruments ; it is only necessary to 
maintain the general principle of contrast. In the present 
instance we see that, irrespective of the independent instru- 
mental accompaniment, the voices prelude each line with an 
introductory subject in which they have a fugal arrangement 
of the line that follows. The impression produced is that 
the subjective sentiment, after having first dwelt upon the 
meaning of each separate line, rises to the level of the lofty 
general feeling of a congregation of worshippers. I confess 
frankly that I find it difficult to comprehend and enter into 
this chorale chorus as a whole, but the composer's purpose 
does not seem to me to admit of a doubt. It need scarcely 
be pointed out that the musical character of the cantata is 
thus throughout contemplative. The fervency which pervades 
each separate portion of it acquires from this a peculiar 
colouring which is most easily and plainly discernible in 
the beautiful and touching aria in E flat major. In Bach's 
time musicians had already begun to write compositions 
in the grand style for household worship. 470 Although 
the cantata " Wer nur den lieben Gott lasst walten " was 
used as church music, in feeling it borders on the domain of 
private devotion. As his letter to Erdmann tells us, and as 
is proved by the large number of various kinds of instru- 
ments which he possessed, Bach had musical performances 
in his own house. It is very possible that he conceived and 
composed this cantata more with a reference to this than for 
its church purposes. 

So far as we can judge from our present knowledge of 
Bach's church music, he composed music to nine of the 
cantata texts by Picander which first appeared in 1728-29. 
Four of these he probably wrote in 1731, the other five I 
assign to 1729 and 1730, of which years no cantatas can 

470 For instance, Te